Joint pain is one of the main symptoms of arthritis, for many sufferers it interferes with daily life, leaving them unable to be as active as they used to be. Here’s a few simple everyday changes that can help arthritis sufferers manage symptoms more effectively.
1. Combat fatigue with the four ‘Ps’
‘Pacing’, or striking a balance between activity and rest, is a key part of managing pain and fatigue.
Try the four ‘Ps’:
- Problem solving: look at your daily routine and see if there are any patterns of activity that cause you pain or fatigue. If certain tasks cause a problem, see if there’s ways you can do it differently.
- Planning: plan how and when you’re going to do demanding jobs and try to space them out over several days.
- Prioritising: put together a list of tasks you need to do and put them in order of importance, deciding which tasks you can remove, delay or hand over.
- Pacing: break tasks down into achievable parts and spread them throughout the day or week, taking short, regular rest breaks.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
- Aim to wind down in the hour before you go to bed.
- Keep a pen and notepad next to the bed so you can jot things down. This can help prevent you worrying about things in the night.
- Reduce your caffeine intake and avoid alcohol late at night.
- If you have pain, take a simple painkiller before you go to bed.
- Try to remove any disturbances (such as a ticking clock) to help you settle down more easily.
3. Keep moving
Arthritis can reduce physical activity because of the impacts of joint pain, muscle weakness and fatigue. Although doing too much can increase fatigue, a lack of exercise reduces fitness levels and contributes to muscle weakness, and it therefore can be a cause as well as a result of fatigue. The good news is that fitness can be improved with the right sort of exercise.
- Start slowly, perhaps just a 5–10 minute walk, then gradually increase the amount of exercise or activity. Generally, the best way to develop your fitness is little and often.Your physiotherapist may be able to help with a fitness programme or advice on exercises, or refer you to a gym or a health walks programme run by local authorities.
- You can take painkillers before you exercise to help prevent discomfort and allow you to continue with your activity.
- Set realistic goals (it's normal for these goals to change as your condition changes).
- Do exercise that you enjoy.
- Do it regularly.
As part of their ‘Share your Every Day’ campaign, Arthritis Research UK is asking people affected by arthritis to share their everyday experiences living with the condition and help them find their everyday freedom. Visit www.arthritisresearchuk.org/shareyoureveryday to share your story.
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