Arthritis: Chores Made Easier

Doing daily activities and chores can be painful and tiring when you have arthritis. There are many ways to help you keep doing your daily activities and chores without as much pain and fatigue.

Pay attention to your posture and position. Proper posture is important to help reduce pain. Start by using good posture to protect your neck, back, hips, and knees. If standing for long periods of time is painful, lean against a wall or put one foot up on a stool. Sit with your back straight to do work such as sorting and folding clothing. It also helps to sit on a high stool while you cook or wash dishes. Regularly stretch and relax, no matter what task you are doing. Reduce stress, stiffness, and tension by moving around.

Organize. Organize your work and storage areas so that the tools you use most are kept in easy reach and at a comfortable level. The idea is to use as little effort as possible when you reach or bend to get them. Use a rotating tray or plastic bins to keep things close by. Keep all laundry supplies next to the washing machine. Keep cleaning supplies in both the kitchen and the bathroom. If a top freezer is hard for you to reach, you can get a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. Make sure your mailbox is at a comfortable height so that you don’t have to bend down or reach awkwardly to get mail.

Use your strongest joints and muscles to do your tasks. When lifting something that is low or on the ground, bend your knees and lift by straightening your legs. Avoid lifting heavy objects. It is often better to make 2 trips with a light load than 1 with a heavy load. Do not use your back to lift. Use a device to reach things instead of bending to get something from the floor or cupboards. Use a cart to move heavy items from one place to another. Use a shoulder bag rather than a handbag. Push doors open with your shoulder or your hip, not with your hand. Check with an occupational therapist for other ways to use your body properly.

Use self-help devices. Self-help devices, sometimes called adaptive or assistive devices, can make everything from dressing to driving a lot easier. An occupational or physical therapist can recommend devices that may help you. Self-help devices can help with:

  • Gripping. Bigger handles on devices such as knives, pens, or toothbrushes can help. Use lightweight tools with built-up or extended handles for gardening and other yard work.
  • Twisting, pinching, squeezing. Tools such as jar openers or buttonhooks can make tasks easier.
  • Carrying. Equipment such as large-handled mugs and double-handled pans can help you hold and carry things.
  • Reducing physical stress. Chairs or keyboards that are designed for comfort and easy use can make your work less painful. Elastic shoelaces or Velcro closures can make it easier to put shoes on. Levers are easier on your hands than doorknobs or knobs on faucets.
  • Moving around. Aids such as canes, walkers, or swivel seats can make it easier and safer to get around.

See a healthcare provider to learn how to move your body with less joint stress so you will have less pain and more energy.

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Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-01
Last reviewed: 2014-12-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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