Aarthritis-37 Coping Strategies-[Part-2]
Put on a scarf.
Not around your neck, but around the elbow or
knee joint when it aches. "A wool scarf is your best
bet," says Jacobs. Be careful not to wrap it too
tightly, however; you don't want to hamper your
Pull on a pair of stretch gloves.
"The tightness caused by the stretchy kind may, in
fact, reduce the swelling that often accompanies
arthritis," says Ward. And the warmth created by
covered hands may make the joints feel better.
"Wearing thermal underwear may have the same
warming effect on joints," says Grayzel.
Get electric gloves.
Hunters use these battery-operated mitts to keep
their hands toasty on cold mornings in the woods.
"The gloves just may do the trick to keep your
hands warm and pain-free," says Jacobs. She
recommends keeping them on all night while you
Try a water bed.
According to the National Water Bed Retailers'
Association in Chicago, many owners claimed in a
study that their rheumatoid arthritis "was helped
very much by a water bed." And Earl J. Brewer, Jr.,
M.D., former head of the Rheumatology Division
of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, believes
he knows why. "The slight motions made by a
water bed can help reduce morning stiffness," he
says. "And a heated water bed may warm the joints
and relieve joint pain."
Slip into a sleeping bag.
If a water bed is out of the question, you might
consider camping gear. "The cocoonlike effect of a
sleeping bag traps heat, which can help relieve
morning aches and pains," reports Brewer. He
learned of its therapeutic effects when many of his
patients told him that they got relief by sleeping in
their sleeping bags on top of their beds.
Brewer tells the story of a doctor from Norway who
happened to stay in a bed-and-breakfast while on
business in New York. The doctor, who was
suffering from arthritis pain, slept peacefully each
night in the B&B's bed and woke each morning
pain-free. The bed was outfitted with a goose-down
comforter and pillow. According to Brewer, the
bedding's warmth and minute motion brought on
the relief. For those who are allergic to down, an
electric blanket may bring some relief.
Watch your weight.
Being overweight puts more stress on the joints. As
a matter of fact, a weight gain of 10 pounds can
mean an equivalent stress increase of 40 pounds on
the knees. So if you are carrying excess pounds,
losing weight can help improve joint function.
"People who lose weight can slow the progress of
their osteoarthritis," says Grayzel.
Question any cure-all.
Frustrated by the chronic pain of arthritis, some
sufferers pursue a litany of promises for 100
percent relief--whether from a so-called miracle
drug, a newfangled diet, or another alternative
treatment. Unfortunately, at this time, arthritis has
no cure. So, before you jump at the next hotsounding
testimonial, proceed with caution. Get all
the facts. Consult your physician or other health-
care provider. Even age-old techniques, such as
wearing a copper bracelet, should be viewed with
skepticism, agree most experts. And remember, if
something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Plan ahead each day.
Prepare a realistic, written schedule of what you
would like to accomplish each day. That way, you
can carry out your most demanding tasks and
activities when you think you'll have the most
energy and enthusiasm--in the morning, for
Spread the strain.
As a general rule, you want to avoid activities that
involve a tight grip or that put too much pressure on
your fingers. Use the palms of both hands to lift
and hold cups, plates, pots, and pans, rather than
gripping them with your fingers or with only one
hand. Place your hand flat against a sponge or rag
instead of squeezing it with your fingers. Avoid
holding a package or pocketbook by clasping the
handle with your fingers. Instead, grasp your goods
in the crook of your arm--the way a football player
holds the ball as he's running across the field--and
you won't be tackled by as much pain.
Avoid holding one position for a long time.
Keeping joints "locked" in the same position for
any length of time will only add to your pain and
stiffness. Relax and stretch your joints as often as
Whenever possible, use your arm instead of your
hand to carry out an activity. For example, push
open a heavy door with the side of your arm rather
than with your hand and outstretched arm.
Take a load off.
Sitting down to complete a task will keep your
energy level up much longer than if you stand.
Replace doorknobs and round faucet handles with long handles.
They require a looser, less stressful grip to operate,
so you'll put less strain on your joints.
Build up the handles on your tools.
For a more comfortable grip, tape a layer or two of
thin foam rubber, or a foam-rubber hair curler,
around the handles of tools such as brooms and
[To Be Continued]
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