Living with arthritis means learning to pace yourself.
Just about everyone will suffer some form of arthritis (joint and soft tissue inflammation) during their lifetime.
Arthritis can occur in our spinal joints, our limbs and even in our jaw joints. Sometimes the inflammation and pain will be present for a short period of time (days or weeks) and often it may be a chronic problem (years or months).
Physiotherapy can help you manage your arthritis by:
- Regaining/ maintaining the movement in your joints and soft tissue
- Helping you strengthen your muscles
- Settling down acute episodes of pain and swelling
- Helping you learn ways of pacing yourself
If you suffer from arthritic pain, there are a number of measures you may choose to try and deal with it. One of the main things you need to do to manage your arthritis effectively is learning to pace yourself. This ensures that you don’t overstress your arthritic joints and cause increased pain and inflammation. Many people with arthritis do too much at one time. This continually provokes their pain and obstructs the effectiveness of arthritis treatment such as medication and physiotherapy. Some examples of how you can pace yourself include:
Try to determine how far you can walk without provoking your arthritis. You may do this by measuring your walking in distance or in time. For example you may find that you suffer from increased pain if you are on your feet for 2 hours at a time. If this is the case, break your day into segments, so that you have a rest after each 1-2 hours of walking.
Gardening and house work
If you wish to spring clean the house, do some chores around the house or carry out some gardening, plan your day. Try to break big chores up into smaller segments, punctuated by rest. For example, if you have 2 hours of gardening to do, break it up into half hour segments and do some stretching or less stressful activity in between.
Driving your car or sitting at the desk
Many people with arthritis find that sitting in the car or at their desk for long periods will provoke arthritic spines, hips and knees. If this is the case with you, try breaking up your sitting into small segments. Again, stretch and move around during these breaks.
There may be a number of different activities that affect your arthritis. Try to identify them and work out how you can pace yourself during these activities. Speak to your physiotherapist and doctor if you need help with managing your arthritis.