Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause stiff, swollen joints as well as skin rashes related to psoriasis. It’s a lifelong disease with no known cure.
Some people diagnosed with PsA may only experience relatively mild symptoms, like inflamed joints and reduced range of motion. These can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
Other people may have a moderate or severe case of PsA that can lower their quality of life. Flare-ups can worsen PsA symptoms and make it difficult to do everyday activities, such as turning faucets on and off, getting dressed, walking, and bending down. Moderate to severe flares may prevent some people from being able to perform their job.
If you find that PsA is preventing you from accomplishing certain tasks, you might want to consider using assistive devices to help. A physical or occupational therapist can recommend which assistive devices might be best for you.
Here’s an overview of some common assistive devices for PsA.
When joint pain and stiffness strike, tasks related to personal hygiene, like using the toilet and taking a shower, can become challenging. Use these devices to help make each trip to the bathroom a little easier.
Toilet seat riser
A toilet seat riser is an assistive device that slips on top of a traditional toilet seat to increase its height by 3 to 6 inches. The extra height can make getting to a seated position and standing up again easier. Some toilet seat risers also come with handles for more stability.
Be mindful of the material of the toilet seat riser you choose. Some have a spongy material that can stick to your skin. This can be uncomfortable if you also have psoriasis skin lesions. A hard plastic seat might be a better option.
You can make bathing and showering easier by using a long-handled sponge. This assistive device has a regular sponge attached to a long handle. If you have pain in your hips, a long-handled sponge can help you reach your feet and lower legs without bending forward.
Swivel bath stool
If standing for long periods of time is difficult, adding a swivel bath stool can help. Sitting down while showering helps take pressure off sore joints. The rotating seat also helps reduce the need to twist and reach while bathing.
Wash and dry bidet
A bidet helps you wash your bottom with a spray of water and dry it with air to help you keep clean after using the toilet. Bidets come in a few different versions. They can be installed onto the back of a traditional toilet, or as a sprayer attachment alongside the toilet.
Some high-tech toilets have a built-in bidet with a variety of features, such as heated air dryers, self-cleaning nozzles, and adjustable water pressure.
When you have PsA, the thought of spending time in the kitchen to make yourself a healthy meal may seem daunting. Use these tools to help you carry out kitchen tasks from prep to cleanup.
If PsA affects the small joints in your hands and fingers, it can make using conventional scissors difficult. You might want to try loop scissors, instead. These self-opening scissors allow you to cut things by putting gentle pressure on the long loop handle. They come in a range of sizes for different purposes.
Reaching items in high or low cabinets can be painful during a PsA flare. Consider purchasing a reacher for your kitchen. This long, lightweight tool has a handle on one end and a grabbing device on the other. You can use it to grab out-of-reach items without straining your joints.
Electric can opener
An electric can opener takes away the manual effort of opening canned food by hand. Once you position the can in place and press the lever, a sharp blade cuts the rim to open the can. Similarly, an automatic jar opener can help remove lids that are located on glass jars.
Good-angled grip cutlery
Swollen finger joints can interfere with your ability to lift a fork or spoon to your mouth. Adaptive utensils, like good-angled grip cutlery, can make mealtime easier. This easily graspable flatware comes bent at an angle, making it more comfortable to use. Some options can be bent to an angle of your choosing.
Around 5 percent of people diagnosed with PsA report that they’re unable to lift a full cup of water to their mouths, or can only do so with much difficulty, according to a 2016 study.
Popping a straw in a glass of water can allow you to drink without lifting the cup. Consider investing in a few high-quality reusable straws.
PsA joint pain can keep you up at night, but poor sleep can actually make joint pain worse. Use these assistive devices in the bedroom to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Electric adjustable bed
Around 8 in 10 people diagnosed with arthritis have trouble sleeping, according to the Arthritis Foundation. An electric adjustable bed can help you get into a comfortable position. Plus, it can elevate your legs to relieve inflammation in your lower extremities.
An orthopedic pillow can be a useful assistive device if you have neck pain. It’s designed to provide support and keep your upper body in the right position while lying in bed. You can also use pillows to prop up your legs or other affected joints as needed to get comfortable.
Snuggling with a warm blanket can be soothing to painful joints. Consider purchasing an electric blanket with a timer. That way, you can turn down the heat while you’re sleeping and turn it back up to warm up stiff joints before your alarm clock goes off.
Your feet provide your body with balance and mobility, so it’s important to take care of them to make sure they can function and support you properly. Try these foot-friendly gadgets to help you get around in comfort.
Orthotics and specialized footwear can ease pressure on your joints and make walking more comfortable. While there are no official recommendations on footwear for PsA, some support communities for people with arthritis recommend shoes with supportive or rocker soles and removable orthotic inserts.
A shoehorn is an assistive device that makes it easier to slide your foot into a shoe. Some have longer handles that can eliminate the need to bend down when putting shoes on.
No-tie shoelaces and Velcro fasteners
Swollen, painful joints in your fingers, hands, and wrists can make it hard to tie your shoes. There are a number of no-tie shoelace systems available at shoe stores and online that can replace conventional shoelaces.
Often made from elastic, these stretchy shoelaces can turn any pair of lace-up shoes into slip-ons. It’s also helpful to wear shoes with Velcro fasteners for shoe closure to prevent stress on the hands.
PsA affects different people in different ways. Depending on how your mobility is affected by your symptoms, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend that you use an assistive device to help you walk, such as:
- canes, which can be useful if you have pain in one side of your body that makes it hard to balance or walk
- walkers, which can provide additional support if you feel unsteady on your feet
- wheelchairs, which may be necessary if you have more severe PsA that’s impacting your ability to walk
Whether at work or at home, the right seating arrangements can help take stress off achy joints. Try these gadgets to comfortably stay seated.
The chair at your office can make a big difference in your ability to get your job done, especially during a PsA flare.
Request an ergonomic chair from your workplace. Ask for one that has lumbar support to promote good posture while sitting.
A chair that has swivel and rolling features can also allow you to get around without stressing your joints. The right headrest can also ease strain in your neck and shoulders.
Dangling legs can increase back pain. If your feet don’t reach the floor, consider using a footrest.
Find one that keeps your knees and ankles at 90-degree angles. You can also use items around your home, such a stack of books or cardboard box, to create your own footrest.
If PsA is making it difficult for you to complete everyday tasks, assistive devices can help. There are gadgets that can help with all kinds of chores and activities, from bathing, to walking, to preparing meals.
Work with a physical or occupational therapist to determine which assistive devices might be best for you.