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Find the Right OA Tools

Repetitive motions, stiff postures, and excessive strain can all aggravate osteoarthritis. Fortunately, there are many tools out there to help take the strain out of daily tasks.

  • Specialized handles. Many kitchen tasks can be painful for someone with OA, so look for kitchen tools -- such as knives, can openers, with specially designed, larger, padded handles. They make it easier to get a grip without pinching tightly.
  • Assistive devices. Just search on “arthritis assistive devices” and you’ll find a host of helpers. Whether you have trouble buttoning shirts, opening doorknobs, gardening, using the TV remote, or reaching for things on high shelves, there’s a tool for you.
  • Safety items. One of the biggest risks with osteoarthritis is falling. Consider installing grab bars in your shower or beside your toilet, getting a raised toilet seat, and adding a second banister or other support to your stairs. You can also ask an occupational therapist to do a “safety check” of your home for fall hazards like small area rugs and loose cords.
  • Adapt your hobbies. Has OA in your hands or wrists made it hard for you to continue favorite activities like knitting, crocheting or crafting? Ask for help at your local hobby, craft, or fabric store -- often they will have expertise in what kinds of tools and techniques can make these activities easier when you have OA.

Ease OA Pain

Your doctor will recommend the right pain reliever for your arthritis, but there are pain relief methods you can try at home, too.

  • Get a massage from a certified massage therapist. This relaxing treatment may help decrease your pain and stiffness.
  • Use cold packs to decrease the pain and swelling surrounding inflamed joints. You can buy them at the drugstore.
  • Heat can also help with arthritis pain and joint stiffness: try a long soak in a warm tub or a hot shower.
  • Try over-the-counter medications. Sometimes a simple over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug or cream is enough to ease a spasm of pain. Be sure to talk with your doctor about all the medications that you take, including supplements.

Get OA Support

If some tasks are just too difficult -- like grocery shopping or doing laundry -- consider getting some help. There are many home grocery delivery options, and many towns have laundry services that pick up and deliver. It may cost a little more, but how much do extra medications, doctor visits, and even hospitalizations cost? Or try asking a friend or family member to shop with you or give a hand with laundry.

You may feel uncomfortable asking for help, but you don’t have to manage OA alone. You’ve probably given a hand to many family members and friends over the years; now let them help you in return.