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Guide by Condition: Arthritis

Posted by Emily . on

Arthritis is an invisible condition affecting millions of people in their daily lives. With the help of treatments such as medication, mobility aids and adapting your surroundings it is possible to help comfort symptoms and live a fulfilling life.


What is Arthritis?

With over 10 million people living with Arthritis, it is the number one cause of pain and disability in the UK alone. An invisible condition that covers a range of over 200 different types including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid, arthritis can also affect children and young people, most types being known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), while causes for this are unknown, symptoms can often improve as the child gets older.


The types of arthritis fall into five main groups:

  • Back Pain - A common problem where pain can come from muscles and ligaments, discs, bones and joints in the back area. Other conditions such as slipped disc, Osteoporosis and spondylosis can also cause back pain. However, it isn’t always possible to identify the exact cause.

  • Inflammatory - The word arthritis itself, literally mean inflammation within the joint. For people with Inflammatory Arthritis, it occurs for no obvious reason, meaning that your immune system is attacking your joints, which is otherwise known as an autoimmune condition.  Rheumatoid arthritis is a common example of this, often affecting several joints, tendons and ligaments causing pain and swelling, along with other symptoms such as tiredness and irritability, depression and even flu-like symptoms. Other forms of inflammatory arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis.

  • Degenerative or Mechanical -  A type of arthritis is where the main problem is damage to the cartilage that covers the end of a bone.  When the cartilage becomes thinner and rough, the bone will try to repair this damage but will occasionally overgrow which alters the shape of the joint. This is known as osteoarthritis, which can result from damage to the joint such as a previous fracture. This type of arthritis is more common in older people, often affecting areas of the body that are heavily used such as knees, hips, the base of the thumb and big toe joints.

  • Soft Tissue Musculoskeletal Pain - This type of pain is often felt in tissues and will typically come from muscles or soft tissues that support the joints. It is often localised to one area of the body after injury or overuse.

  • Connective Tissue Diseases - Conditions include Lupus, scleroderma and dermatomyositis. Pain from a CTD can affect tendons, ligaments and cartilage however with a CTD, you may also feel a range of other symptoms besides painful joints as they can often affect organs.

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis, consult your GP.

If you are already diagnosed or want to find out more information, here are some useful links from charities and organisations that specialise in arthritis.


What is the treatment for Arthritis?

Whilst many different treatments for arthritis do exist including painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes surgery, there is currently no cure. Treatments can include therapies, exercises and mobility aids that can assist people who have arthritis to lead fuller lives.

1 in 4 people who have arthritis, can have it for over 20 years, so it is important to help those live better with the condition by not only improving access to treatments through the NHS but by developing ways of making everyday life easier as normal routines can become difficult when arthritis develops.  You can click through to the underlined links in the descriptions below to view our related products.


Daily Wear

Daily wear aids such as knee wraps, arthritic gloves and socks can help to ease pain and symptoms. Silipos socks help avoid friction when walking to prevent ulcers and calluses forming, as they feature a small layer of gel throughout the sole. Arthritic knee wraps and gloves can help protect and support painful joints, while also providing compression and warmth - often easy to adjust with a Velcro strap. If you find getting dressed a bit of a struggle, there are many different types of dressing aids which can help with things like fastening zips and buttons, putting on socks, tights, underwear and bras. There are even mobility aids that can help you brush and style your hair effortlessly.  


Cooking & Dining

Comfort grip handles and openers can provide needed support in the kitchen when preparing and eating food. If hands and joints are painful when opening jars and cans, food preparation aids such as an Auto Can Opener or OXO Jar Opener can help relieve strain and make the task effortless.  Lifting kettles or plates can become a daunting and dangerous task if you experience severe pain or weakness in the hands. Luckily, this can be made easier with the likes of a kettle tipper or plate holder that provides assistance with pouring and lifting.


Bathing

Maintaining independence while living with arthritis is important not only for the person’s dignity but also for their mental health. When it comes to normal bathing and toileting routines, this can prove difficult if unaided however there are now hundreds of solutions that can help to maintain independence in the bathroom. Bath lifts can help to keep the joy of a relaxing bath accessible and easy by providing the user with different options to experience bathing, from reclining lifts to inflating bathing cushions and many different accessories to suit multiple needs. Bathroom rails can provide extra support for getting in and out of the bath or shower and moving around the bathroom. See our handy guide to choosing the right grab rails for more information.


Toileting

A raised toilet seat or toilet frame can work wonders for anyone with joint pain who finds nipping to the loo has become difficult. Soft or firm, depending on your needs, a raised loo seat can provide relief to sore knees and hips when using the toilet as they prevent the user from placing themselves too low. See our guide to choosing the right raised toilet seat.  

If you struggle to sit or stand up again, a full sturdy frame can provide that much needed support and assistance. Many can be height adjusted to perfectly meet the needs of the user. Some frames also come with a built-in raised toilet seat if both are required, such as the Mowbray.


At Home & In The Car

Reachers are a handy tool to have around the house as they allow you to reach and grab dropped or high up items without too much bending and stretching or unnecessary pain. A rising aid can give you a boost when sitting or standing from a chair or sofa. Using keys easily may seem like second nature unless you have weakened joints or experience arthritis in the hands, which can make the simple turning of a key difficult and painful. Key turners provide a large grip handle to ease strain when unlocking doors. Similar to getting in and out of the car, this everyday task can become troublesome for those with joint or back pain, however little things like car handles and car cushions can make car journeys stress-free and comfortable again. If extra support is needed while walking, a rollator is a strong choice for aiding walking and maintaining independence, with lots of different styles there is something for everyone. Check out our rollator guide to find the right one for you! If a rollator is too big of a step and you need just a little support, walking sticks are a popular choice with ever-evolving styles and designs available.


Support and more information

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis, consult your GP or OT.

If you are already diagnosed or want to find out more information, here are some useful links from charities and organisations that specialise in arthritis:


NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/arthritis/ - Types, symptoms and treatments

Arthritis Care: https://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/ - Advice on living well with arthritis

Arthritis Research UK:  https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/ - Information and support

CCAA: http://www.ccaa.org.uk/ Children’s Chronic Arthritis Association


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