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Managing arthritis to optimise your quality of life

12:00am | & News

All of our main Acorn blogs this week have been looking at various aspects of arthritis; what it is, how it effects around 10 million people in the UK, including children and young adults, and how they can find ways to self-manage their condition and maximise their quality of life.

To do this we have joined forced with Arthritis Care, the UK's largest organisation working for all people with arthritis. It's website is a treasure trove of information, advice, helpful tips and support, while it also operates a national free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 4050. 

This week was chosen to coincide with World Arthritis Day, an annual global initiative raising awareness of  issues affecting people with a wide range of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, including arthritis in its many forms. It took place on Wednesday (October 12th) and was the subject of that day's Acorn blog.

Today we will look in more detail at ways to manage arthritis, again with expert help from our partners at Arthritis Care. Adjusting to life with arthritis can be challenging both physically and mentally, but there are a wide range of support services and self-management techniques which can help. The key thing to remember is that while arthritis will affect your life, it needn't control it.

One area that can reap real benefits is diet and exercise. Being significantly overweight can be a major risk factor in the development of may forms of arthritis, by putting extra strain on key load bearing joints such as knees and hips. Reducing your weight will lessen the likelihood of arthritis or help slow its development. If you have already been diagnosed with arthritis, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight will lessen its effects and reduce pain.

Similarly, exercising is one of the best ways of keeping pain at bay and retaining a better range of movement, increased muscle strength, more energy and less stiffness. Of course it is advisable to find the best kind of exercise appropriate to your particular circumstances and there is more advice on healthy eating and exercising on the Arthritis Care website. You can even buy a specially made DVD of chair-based exercises designed to promote mobility, flexibility and strength.

Having arthritis might also affect your ability to work, either temporarily or on a more permanent basis. However, there is evidence that keeping working can be good for your health, wellbeing and recovery. The onus is on your workplace to help you adapt, perhaps by adjusting your working hours or making changes to your work environment. Again, a whole raft of information about your options and rights at work can be found on the Arthritis Care website.

If you do need to give up work because of your condition there are various Welfare Benefits which might be available to you, such as the Personal Independence Payment or Income Support. If you need a loved one to look after you they might also be entitled to a Carer's Allowance. These are just a few of the possible benefits which you could be entitled to and again there is much more information available on the Welfare Benefits section of Arthritis Care's website, or by calling its helpline.

For most people diagnosed with arthritis one of the main issues affecting their daily lives is coping with pain and immobility. Arthritis Care has produced a booklet devoted to the subject of Managing Pain, which can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here. As well as a growing range of prescription medications from health professionals, there are many self-management techniques which will help reduce pain and make it bearable.

Simple thing such as becoming aware of your body positions, learning to use joints well and conserve energy, and respecting pain and understanding the messages it is giving you will all help with daily pain management. A range of easily-made modifications to your home will also help you cope with arthritis and reduced mobility, chief among which is a stairlift.

In a recent survey almost 60% of Acorn Stairlifts' customers said arthritis was their main reason for investing in a stairlift to improve the quality of their lives and help them to retain their independence. For people with reduced mobility, going up and down stairs can become a significant obstacle, causing discomfort and the danger of falling and suffering a serious injury. Some people take to living on one level of their home or even consider moving to a bungalow or ground floor apartment, despite all the upheaval and expense it would entail.

It needn't be that way, as installing a stairlift will remove the obstacle of stairs at a single stroke, allowing people to continue enjoying the full use of their home. All Acorn stairlifts are designed to be as user-friendly as possible for people with arthritis and we are proud to be the first stairlift manufacturer to be awarded the prestigious Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use commendation. For people who have difficulty bending at the knees we produce a Sit/Stand Stairlift which, as its name implies, allows users to glide smoothly up and down stairs in either a seated or standing position.

Even on more complex curved staircases our stairlifts can be installed within just a few days of an initial inquiry and with a minimum of fuss and disruption. All our stairlifts fix to the stairs, not the wall, so there is no need for structural work and redecorating.

Dr Hilary Jones, Acorn Stairlifts' medical advisor, commented: “With modern approaches to the treatment of arthritis and simple modofocations to their home, people can stay in the house they love and still carry out most of the everyday activities they have always enjoyed. 

“A stairlift is an essential accessory that so many of my own patients have benefited from in this situation. Suiting the exact needs of the individual, it overcomes the barrier of whatever type of stairs are there and is easy to operate.”

To watch a short film of Dr Hilary's Guide to Buying a Stairlift, click here. And remember, for a full range of advice and information on living with arthritis, visit the Arthritis Care website or phone its free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 4050.

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