Treating Basal Thumb Joint Arthritis - Mayo Clinic
Adapting Your Home to Your Arthritis
Streamlining the design of your home can help ease joint pain and other arthritis symptoms. Try these simple suggestions.
By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
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Arthritis affects millions of Americans, especially those over age 65 — and if you or someone you care about is living with this chronic condition, you know how joint pain and discomfort can make daily activities a real struggle.
Fortunately, there are simple changes you can make around the house to help minimize arthritis joint pain. Try the following tips to manage arthritis symptoms and make life easier.
Quality Sleep for People With Arthritis
Where should you start making changes? One of the first rooms to consider is the bedroom.
“Your bed certainly affects your comfort and pain level and how well you're able to sleep,” explains occupational therapist Karen Smith, OT/L, a practice associate at the American Occupational Therapy Association in Bethesda, Md. “If you have arthritis and you’re sleeping on a really firm bed, it’s probably putting pressure on certain bony prominences.” This can lead to stiffer joints and more pain. Sleeping poorly increases fatigue, and may also increase your perception of pain throughout the next day. From the bed to the pillows on it, you or your loved one may need a bed makeover to sleep more deeply and comfortably. Here are a few ideas:
- Invest in a bed that adjusts to the body. Beds with memory foam mattresses, for instance, or those that allow you to control the firmness of the mattress, are ideal, and most reputable manufacturers allow a trial period. A foam pad can also be placed on top of your existing mattress if you aren’t able to buy a new bed.
- Use layers of light blankets instead of one heavy (and possibly uncomfortable) comforter.
- Invest in an electric blanket, heating pad, or hot water bottle — warmth helps soothe painful, swollen joints.
- Use a memory foam pillow or a down-filled pillow that provides the right support for your head and neck.
- Make sure the bed is at the right level for getting in and out; your feet should touch the floor with your knees at about 90 degrees when you are seated on the edge of the bed.
- If the bed is too low, raise it with attachable risers.
Revamp an Easy Chair to Ease Hip and Knee Symptoms
Many people have a beloved, comfy chair in their den or living room. Smith points out, though, that the problem for people with arthritis is that, after years and years, that comfy chair may actually becometoosoft. Instead of tossing the chair to the curb, consider:
- Refurbishing the cushions so they are firmer.
- Adding risers if the chair seat is too low to get out of easily. (In fact, all the chairs in your home may benefit from a lift to make getting up easier!)
Other Important Steps to Take at Home
Here are a few more smart changes to make around the arthritis patient’s home:
- Make stairs safe.The majority of falls among people with arthritis happen while using the stairs. Think about installing handrails on both sides of the staircase, and make sure they are shaped for hands to grip properly. Also, be sure to firmly secure any carpeting on stairs. Depending on the severity of your loved one’s arthritis symptoms, you may even want to consider an electric stair lift.
- Reorganize.Make sure the things your loved one needs most often are within easy reach. This will help not only knee symptoms of arthritis, but also joint pain in the arms and hands as well.
- Change fixtures.All types of arthritis can make it difficult for patients to use their wrists and hands, especially when it comes to gripping and twisting movements. Whenever possible, adjust fixtures to make daily activities easier. For example, consider replacing traditional doorknobs with lever type handles. You can also add rubberized grips to faucets for easier use.
- Widen and tidy walkways.Make sure there is enough uncluttered space between furnishings, walls, and other items to walk around safely, especially if your loved one uses assistive devices such as a cane or walker. While you’re at it, make sure walkways are well lit, both day and night. Add night lights so that your loved one can get around easily, even in the dark.
- Give the bathroom a makeover.People with all types of arthritis can have trouble with self-care. Add grab rails and hand-held showers in the shower or tub and raise the toilet seat for greater comfort.
Remember, there are a lot of changes you and your loved one can make around the home to ease hand, hip, back, or knee symptoms of arthritis. It may take a little extra effort, but these adjustments can help keep you mobile in and around your home for years to come.
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