Your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may reach a point where it keeps you from carrying on with your daily tasks and activities as before. The good news is that you can tap different types of help and support, depending on how severe your condition may be.
When to Get Help
In the early stages of your RA, you usually may be able to carry on with your everyday duties in spite of your symptoms.
But as your condition worsens, it can start to affect your schedule. It might get hard for you to walk or to move. You may not feel enough energy to finish all that you have to do. Constant pain and inflammation may affect not only your body, but your mind and spirit as well.
A good time to seek help is whenever you feel unable to handle your disease alone.
Types of Help You Can Get
You may benefit from small changes around the house, in-home therapy, or treatment with a doctor.
In-home changes. There are a few things you can do at home to make it more comfortable to live with RA. One of the simplest ways is to use adaptive tools. These are devices that make daily tasks easier for people with joint issues. Examples include:
- Rubber grips to open jars and doorknobs
- Shower seats
- Raised toilet seats
- Bathroom grab bars
If home solutions are not enough, your doctor may refer you to specialists.
Occupational therapy. This teaches you how to ease joint strain by doing things in different ways. You might, for example, pick up objects with both hands instead of one. Occupational therapists also can let you know about wheeled carts and other equipment to make it easier for you to carry or lift things.
The goal of occupational therapy is to help you build new skills that make everyday life with RA less painful.
Physical therapy. This type of treatment helps you repair the skill you lost due to RA pain. Your treatment may include hot and cold therapy, electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, the use of splints, or certain exercises.
Where to Get Help
You can buy adaptive tools at medical supply stores or online. Ask your doctor or therapist where you can find a trusted vendor.
Occupational therapists come to your home to show you how you can adapt to your limitations. Ask a doctor, local hospital, home health centers, or community clinics to recommend an occupational therapist.
You can get physical therapy at home or at the therapist’s office.