Self-help: Living with Arthritis

If you have long-term arthritis, you may be able to manage your symptoms so that you can maintain an active lifestyle. Consult your doctor about pain relief and keeping joints mobile. Organizations concerned with arthritis can also provide you with valuable information and support.


Gentle, regular exercise helps to relieve stiffness and improve mobility. Physical activity also helps to strengthen the muscles that support joints. However, if exercise causes swelling or pain, stop the activity and consult your doctor.


Regular swimming is an ideal sport for maintaining your joint flexibility and stamina. Since the water supports your body, muscles can be exercised without straining your joints.

Pain relief

To relieve severe joint pain, apply heat or cold to the affected area. Heat increases blood flow, and cold helps to reduce swelling. Both decrease sensitivity to pain.

Specialized equipment

Your doctor or a physiotherapist may be able to suggest specially adapted pieces of equipment to help you with household tasks. The equipment may have particular features, such as handles that are easy to grip or extending arms to help you reach objects without bending down.

Eating and drinking

If arthritis restricts the movement in your hands, use cutlery with thick handles and glasses with wide stems that will be easier to grip. A plate with a rim may keep food from spilling, and a nonslip mat will help to hold your plate still during a meal.

Taking a shower

A fixed seat in the shower cubicle allows you to sit down while you wash. Handrails and a nonslip floor surface reduce the risk of falls.

Picking up objects

Tongs enable you to pick up objects that are out of your reach without bending or stretching. Some types of tongs have a trigger mechanism that operates pincers at the end of the arm.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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