At least one form of arthritis or its related conditions (osteoarthritis, lupus and gout) affects more than one in five adults in the United States — generally more women than men, with the exception of gout, which tends to affect Black men more.
If you have arthritis, joint pain can dramatically interfere with your quality of life and the ability to do those everyday activities you once did with ease. But there are easy, everyday things you can do to help provide some relief…in addition to consulting with your doctor, of course.
Arthritis and exercise may not seem like a natural match, but staying active can definitely help your joint pain. “Joints are meant to move, and when they move they’re lubricated,” says physical therapist Patrice Winter, PT, MS, of Fairfax Physical Therapy in Fairfax, Va. Even arthritic joints benefit from motion. The key is to know your limits, Winter says. Understand the range of motion available to you and don’t push past that limit, or you can end up increasing joint pain. And skip the weight-bearing exercises — water-based activities are ideal, especially in warm water.
Joint pain can make sitting at a desk miserable. Fortunately, a few simple tips can help you get through a day at the office. If you work at a desk, make sure you have an ergonomic chair that supports your body and a workstation where all your actions can be done within your range of motion. Choose a hands-free headset instead of clenching a phone between your shoulder and your head. And stay active — remember that it’s vital to get exercise when you have arthritis. Get up and stretch every 30 to 60 minutes.
Stiff joints? You can still let loose in the bedroom. Your approach to sex should involve support, support, support — and a little bit of creativity. Pillows, wedges, and rolled towels that support curved areas will improve your sexual experience, as will trying out new positions to find what’s comfortable. The most important point, says Winter, is not to always conform to the standard missionary position (one partner on top and the other underneath). Spooning, for instance, might be a more viable alternative, she suggests.
The secret to navigating the kitchen when you have joint pain is having everything that you use most commonly in your “strike zone.” That means you may have to reorganize cooking essentials so that most items are between shoulder and thigh height. It’s also a good idea to have a counter at thigh height, which will make stirring and rolling dough easier, says Winter. Finally, plan your strategy before you start cooking so that you won’t have to carry heavy items, such as a pot full of pasta, across the kitchen by yourself.