Your arthritis will occasionally cause pain, stiffness and fatigue. That said, using less energy and reducing the stress on your joints might lessen these symptoms and allow you to be more independent. In order to do this you’ll need to:

  • Learn new ways of doing daily tasks
  • Take time to plan your day
  • Schedule breaks between activities
  • Make simple changes to your home

Ways You Can Conserve Your Energy and Complete Tasks Without Help

Bathing and Toileting

  • Take a hot bath before school, if you are stiff when you wake up
  • Use a non-slip bathmat
  • Use a bath bench/chair and a hand-held shower head if you have difficulty standing up after taking a bath
  • Use a long-handled bath sponge
  • Use a bath mitt instead of a washcloth
  • Install grab bars in (or next to) the bathtub, and use them to stand up after bathing or using the toilet

Eating and Kitchen Tasks

  • Store snacks and food in easy-to-open containers
  • Use adaptive equipment, such as long, flexible straws or utensils with large handles

Dressing

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes
  • Eliminate buttoning and unbuttoning by sewing on cuff buttons with elastic thread (allows buttons to stay buttoned during dressing)
  • Use slip-on shoes with good support (no heels) or shoes with Velcro or elastic shoelaces
  • Wear clothes with button hooks and zipper pulls
  • Use pull-on sports bras or front-closing bras

Computer

  • Use a computer keyboard instead of handwriting long assignments
  • Use a wrist rest and wrist splints if your wrists hurt when typing
  • Consider alternatives to typing, such as voice-activated transcription software

School

  • Sit on a small stool or on a folded gym mat if you have trouble sitting on the floor
  • Ask for help carrying your lunch tray
  • Choose easy-open lunch packages or try to pair up with a “lunch buddy” who can help you open milk cartons and other products
  • Soak your fingers in a sink filled with warm water for a few minutes if you have pain in your fingers while writing or typing
  • Ask for an extra set of books to keep at home so that you won’t need to carry heavy text books to and from school
  • Place your backpack over both shoulders to distribute the weight evenly, or use a wheeled backpack
  • Ask teachers to modify longer assignments, when possible (allowing short answers instead of entire sentences)

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team.