Living with RA can present its share of difficulty. But with a little bit of innovation and determination, you’ll find new ways to get things done. Make everyday tasks and pain management easier with these 13 clever life hacks from the Healthline RA community.
1. Carry a little pair of scissors to open packs of condiments at restaurants. You can even find scissors designed to reduce hand strain, which is great for people with arthritis.
2. Use a paraffin dip for stiff hands and feet first thing in the morning or before bed to relieve pain and stiffness. It melts at a low enough heat that you can comfortably put your hands or feet into it without getting burned. Check out this set that includes the bath, wax, and handling mitts.
3. Go for paper bags, and carry grocery bags with your forearms instead of hands. Just don’t use the crooks of your elbows. That part of your body isn’t designed to support weight.
4. Trying to get a precision grip? Use a hemostat to grab and open a variety packages. A hemostat is a good alternative to using your teeth to open things. Use it to peel off foil lids or grab and tear open packages.This set includes a hemostat with a curved tip to reach tougher angles.
5. To ease swelling and soreness, soak in Epsom salts with essential oils for some aromatherapy. Epsom salt is made of sulfate and magnesium, which help alleviate pain.
6. For better grip, try rubber bands on jar lids to provide more traction to get them open. It even works on small bottles, like nail polish.Use thick bands for wider jar lids and small bands for smaller lids.
7. Stay away from processed foods. Processed foods contain compounds called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which may promote inflammation.
8. Use wheat bags as an alternative to hot water bottles or ice packs for pain relief. Heat them in the microwave or freeze them. You can form them into many different shapes. Purchase one or make a wheat bag on your own.
9. Slide a key ring onto a zipper to give it more surface area to grab onto with sore fingers. Pieces of string or zipper pulls also make it easier to operate zippers.
10. Be sure your doctor checks your vitamin D levels often. Many people with arthritis are prescribed oral steroids that may cause vitamin D deficiencies. The vitamin contributes to bone health and helps the immune system. If you aren’t getting enough of the vitamin, keep some supplements in your home.
11. Cold is good for RA. Create your own awesome gel pack with gallon Ziploc bags filled with two parts water and one part alcohol. You can also freeze plastic bags of corn syrup or dish soap.
12. Use a heating pad throw to help loosen stiff joints and make your body more limber. A large throw can keep more of your body warm.
13. Open jars more easily by letting air under the lid. Some tools are designed for this, but you can use the handle end of a spoon. You can also puncture the lid of a jar to release the seal. Dryer sheets or damp washcloths can help you get a good grip on the lid.