Better Living with Arthritis

Better Living with Arthritis

Arthritis will affect many in our communities - perhaps your parents, a friend or neighbour or even you.  Although arthritis is one of the leading causes of reduced mobility, especially as we age, it is often an invisible disability, and not obvious to ourselves or to others.   

Arthritis is a chronic condition with no cure and it can have a massive impact on people’s quality of life. It often develops slowly over time with the first clues being when knees and hips ache, difficulty standing, kneeling or walking down stairs or struggles opening that bottle or jar. 

What are the symptoms  

Arthritis is a common term used for more than 140 conditions that affect joints but the most common forms are osteoarthritis, gout arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis most often affects the knee, hip, spine and other weight-bearing joints, but also smaller joints like fingers and toes. 

People often describe the aching and stiffness as simply due to ‘wear and tear’, but arthritis can be the result of a number of factors including inflammation, injury or ageing. Warning signs include: 

  • Stiffness of the joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time 
  • Pain in or near the joints when moving or at rest 
  • Swelling in or near the joint 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Painful creaking or cracking when moving joints 
  • Difficulty opening jars, cans or turning handles 

Better ways to live with Arthritis 

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and can develop in people of any age but it usually starts after the age of 40.  Whilst there is no cure, the good news is there are many ways to relieve symptoms and limit their impact on your life. The Arthritis New Zealand website - https://www.arthritis.org.nz/ - is a good place to start for more information, as well as talking to your GP.   

And there is a huge range of specially designed gadgets and gizmos to make everyday tasks a whole lot easier. These products work by reducing the strain on your joints, allowing you to reach, twist, lift and turn.   

So, what gadgets and gizmos should you consider?  There’s can and jar openers and lid removers, special knives that make cutting easier, tap turners that provide the purchase to turn that tap, grab rails to help you stand, handy reachers for picking things up, dressing sticks and sock and stocking aids to reduce the need to lean down or pull.  There are also many aids for the bathroom such as toilet raisers and shower stools, plus personal hygiene products such as long handled sponges for those hard-to-reach places. 

Walking sticks help reduce the weight and stress on a painful hip or knee and walkers provide stability and support to move around safely. Lift chairs help you stand without the need to twist or strain.  And then there is the ultimate mobility accessory, the mobility scooter. 

An Arthritis tool or aid that suits one person may not suit another, so if you are unsure of the best option then it’s best to get some independent advice.  But when you find something that works for you, it can have a huge impact on you and your whānau’s health and wellbeing. The team at Independent Living are trained specialists at finding the right devices for any mobility condition, from their huge and extensively tested selection. 

Other options to consider 

There are a range of other options to consider when it comes to managing arthritis and a consult with your GP is the place to start.  Medication, exercises such as tai chi, swimming, and gentle exercise in a heated pool or practicing relaxation techniques to ease the tension and pain out of your body.  Surgery is often the final resort if the joint is extensively damaged. 

There are many different reasons why your joints may be sore – arthritis is not always the cause of pain. You should always talk to your doctor if you have pain and stiffness that starts for no apparent reason, lasts for more than a few days and is associated with swelling, redness and warmth in your joints. 

View our videos below for more information or visit one of our three stores at 308 Te Irirangi Drive, Botany South, Auckland, 13 Bute Road, Browns Bay, Auckland and 14 Erson Ave, Royal Oak, Auckland   

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  • Jos McKenzie