When you have arthritis, joint pain and weakness can make normal activities around the home difficult. You might find some tasks cause pain or strain, and other activities become almost impossible. But don’t give up just yet! There are many ways that you can protect your joints from pain and strain and make jobs around the home easier to manage.
This information and and more can be found in Arthritis Australia's At home with arthritis: simple steps for managing in the home.
Joints affected by axSpA are usually weaker and less stable than ‘normal’ joints. This makes them more vulnerable to damage, particularly from twisting or repetitive movements. As soon as you find out you have axSpA, it is important to start looking after your spine and joints. Small changes in the way you do things can greatly reduce the stress on your joints and help prevent problems becoming worse in the future, or causing permanent damage.
Here are some ways you can look after your joints:
If you carefully plan and organise your activities, you can make the most of your energy. Pacing helps you to finish what you want to do without increasing your pain or fatigue.
When doing tasks around the house, set a steady pace and take a break BEFORE you get tired and sore. Alternate periods of rest and activity during the day. As a rough guide, try to take a 10-15 minute rest every one and a half hours. You can also rest different joints and muscles throughout the day by regularly changing activities. For example, switch from an activity that requires standing, to one that allows you to sit so that you can rest your legs and back. Remember, don’t overdo things on ‘good days’ as it could result in pain and fatigue the following days.
It is important to listen to your body and take notice of pain. Pain can serve as a warning. Pushing through pain can make it worse and can also increase stress, tiredness and joint damage. While pain messages should always be respected, a fear of pain can stop you from living an active life and can lead to further problems. Many people will give up on an activity if it hurts. However, it is better to keep doing these activities a little at a time, with plenty of rests, rather than give up altogether something which you enjoy.
It is important to:
Look for ways that you can use tools or your environment to help you accomplish tasks. For example:
Use your strongest and largest joints and muscles to distribute weight and reduce joint stress and pain. For example:
Muscles and tendons are at their strongest when the joints are in straight alignment. Try to avoid or change activities that put your affected joints into unstable or awkward positions. For example:
Simply changing the way you do an activity can save time, energy and unnecessary joint pain. Consider the following when doing your daily activities:
Staying in the same position for long periods can lead to tired muscles and stiff joints. It is generally recommended to change positions or stretch every 20 minutes. For example:
Swelling caused by arthritis can stretch and weaken joints. This can put joints more at risk of damage. Try to avoid positions or grips that put extra stress and force on joints. For example:
Aim to maintain good posture when sitting or standing. For example:
Wearing splints can often help to ease the strain or pain in your joints. There are two types of hand and wrist splints.
Some people find that compression gloves are also helpful in reducing pain and swelling and are easier to wear. These can be worn day or night, when working or resting.
A hand therapist, occupational therapist or physiotherapist can explore the options with you.
You don't have to start using joint protection techniques on your own. Healthcare professionals, local groups, and friends and family can all help to provide support and encouragement.
Healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists, can suggest more ways you can reduce aches, pain and strain when doing daily tasks.
Independent Living Centres (ILCs) are located in each capital city and provide information about aids and assistive technology. See www.ilcaustralia.org.au or call the National ILC Infoline on 1300 885 886 to find your closest centre and more information. (Note, the Independent Living Centre is called LifeTec in QLD).
For more information and practical tips on making daily tasks easier, check out our At home with arthritis: simple steps for managing in the home booklet in additional resources.
If you would like to discuss arthritis and aids with our health educators, please call the Arthritis Infoline on 1800 011 041