Living with arthritis hints and tips

Tips on preparing food

Opening jars

I found out how to open jars by trial and error as I am unable to grip the jar with my left hand which is required with most gadgets. Wrap a thick towel around the jar, push it against the wall or something solid and then tap all round the lid with a small hammer or kitchen scissors. You will then find the lid comes off easily.

Dorothy, Kent

Opening cans

Wear a rubber glove (washing up type) to open a jar. I find it does help.

Mary, West Midlands

I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 38 years and have never, until now, found a satisfactory jar opener. I have recently been given the battery-operated jar opener, which is wonderful.

Janet, South Brent, Devon - 2009

My life was transformed when I bought a I bought a jar opener. It looks a bit like a plastic bottle opener but it's brilliant at opening jam jars, pickled cucumber jars, mayonnaise jars etc., and only needs minimal pressure to break the vacuum on the lid. I have sent them to friends and family who have painful hands and they think they are wonderful too! I had a battery-operated jar opener and hated it as it tended to make lids fly off the jar and did not fit every is now in the bin. 

Carolyn, Manchester - 2015

I struggle to open cans with ring pulls and have tried a number of different devices with no avail. I recently obtained a whale-shaped opener that seems to do the job. You need to lift the ring pull slightly away from the tin, which I find easy enough to do with a knife, and then slot the ring into the whale’s mouth and use the tummy as a lever. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I got it from, so this is a bit of a plea for information as I want to buy another as a back-up!

Sally, North Wales - 2010

Tips on baking

I love baking, but having arthritis means you need to plan and pace yourself. Making my Christmas cake this year took me all day. It’s not just the mixing that’s difficult, I find it tiring just lugging bags of sugar and flour around. But I did it in stages and had a rest between each part.

Breaking it down into manageable chunks makes it doable and means I can carry on doing what I enjoy in the kitchen.

Nora, via Share Your Everyday - 2017

Tips on shoes

I've found a company called Cozy Feet, who have a great selection of stylish shoes that come in 6E (EEEEEE) and women's sizes 3 to 10. D is the normal width of shoes that are sold in high-street shops. Having arthritis in my feet, I now buy all my shoes from this company and am very satisfied with my purchases.

Mrs T, Leicester - 2012

I've had severe rheumatoid arthritis for many years, and also had operations on my feet. About three years ago I discovered memory foam insoles and never looked back. If you make sure the inner sole is removable in all new shoes, these can be replaced regularly with memory foam now very cheap to buy. I use them in all my shoes, sandals and slippers.

Mrs M, York - 2010

Having had a hip dislocation recently which happened as I bent down to fasten my shoelaces, I've discovered the wonderful elastic 'bungee' laces you can buy to fit into any laced shoe/trainer/boot. They can be adjusted so that the shoe can very easily be put on using a long-handled shoehorn. I have trainers and my walking boots fitted with these now, and it's even easier than having to bend down to tie laces.

There's no need to look for trainers with these already fitted; you can simply buy the laces (online is easiest) and fit them yourself. 

Wendy, via email

Tips on coping with cold weather

I’ve found it really helps to have big mugs for drinking hot drinks. Little dainty cups are fine, but a big mug/bucket of tea means I can keep both hands wrapped around and warm without making my fingers hurt. I refuse to let arthritis spoil my enjoyment of the most British of beverages!

Stacey, via Facebook

Hot soup, hot juice, hot socks and a hot water bottle! I’m 35 with inflammatory arthritis in multiple joints and these things certainly help me through the winter. Stay cosy everyone!

Hazel, via Facebook

I use a lightweight duvet, as I have arthritis in my thumbs. It's very warm, despite it being so light, and I use fleece blankets too. I layer my feet and hands with as many socks and gloves as the day dictates. I don't care what it looks like, as long as I'm warm! 

Eve, via Facebook - 2017

Layers! I'm all about layers at this time of year. I have numerous hoodies, jumpers, vests and socks on standby for when the cold hits. By the time the cold weather comes, fashion goes out the window!

I also make sure I have a couple of pairs of gloves, both fingered and fingerless, with a good wrist length for maximum coverage.

Claire, via Facebook

I wear extra layers and keep a hot water bottle and blanket downstairs. I also have a flannelette duvet cover and sheets, an electric blanket and fluffy socks and slippers.

Bev, via Facebook

I have a neck hot water bottle and a neck cowl. I have arthritis all over, but the neck is horrendous. Spending three minutes on a stand-up sunbed has worked wonders for me in the past too. 

Paddy, via Facebook - 2017

Tips on staying healthy

I use a vitamin D spray from Holland and Barrett and make sure I get my free flu jab.

Samantha, via Facebook - 2017

Book a deep tissue massage or any type of massage, get some heat packs, some water bottles, and a massage cushion.

Claire, via Facebook - 2017

Tips on personal care

I bought a bath step which has been a great help getting in and out of the bath/shower! I could just about manage before but having it makes me realise how much easier I can make life if I give in and buy things to help me, as I’ve been too proud until recently.

It's just a blue and white plastic step but they're anti-slip and stackable to increase the height. They're broad, so feel very safe.

Amy, via Facebook - 2017

Replace your bath with a walk-in shower, which also makes hair washing much easier. For days when this is too much, try wet wipes – there are various types make-up ones for face, baby wipes for delicate areas and antibacterial hand wipes.

Angie, via Facebook - 2017>

Alternatives to heavy towels

If, like me, you find a bath towel too heavy and awkward to handle after a bath or shower, why not use a dry face flannel to absorb most of the water and then finish off with a smaller towel?  It makes such a difference (and no heavy wet towels in the laundry either!).

Mrs R, Gateshead - 2014

Re. difficulties on towel drying after bath/shower, as I cannot bend I use a micro-fibre radiator brush to dry my legs from a sitting position and I also use micro-fibre mittens on each hand to avoid heavy towels. They are marketed for use for quick hair drying and are advertised in various magazines.

Gwen, Cleethorpes - 2015

I buy easy to wear clothes. I still get to wear jeans, just lightweight and pull-on ones. My tops are all easy pull-ons, the secret is no buttons. My footwear is all pull-on and I use a long-handled shoe horn – a great invention!

Christine, via Facebook - 2017