Body

Living with arthritis

What to do if you suffer from this condition.

Arthritis affects around 647,000 Kiwis and can have a huge impact on all areas of their lives.

But there is help for people living with it, in the form of both practical aids and support services, as well as pain relief.

Next time you see your GP, ask about help you can get from other medical professionals, including a physiotherapist, dietician or occupational therapist. In severe cases, you may also be referred to a pain specialist.

In some cases, seeing a counsellor or therapist can be helpful. Dealing with pain and the physical restrictions of arthritis can be stressful, and in turn, being stressed or anxious can make symptoms worse.

Depression and anxiety are common in people with chronic conditions, so it can help to talk to a professional about what you're feeling and how to handle it.

Taking a team approach to dealing with arthritis can make it a lot easier to cope with the limitations you may face because of it.

You can also find out more about assistance that is available from one of Arthritis New Zealand's educators. The national charity has trained staff who can provide all sorts of information and advice about everything from services and support groups available in your area through to referring you to appropriate exercise classes.

They can also answer questions about your diagnosis and treatment. Call 0800 663 463 or go to arthritis.org.nz.

One of the most frustrating aspects of arthritis is how tricky it can be doing everyday tasks, especially if your hands are affected.

Fortunately, there are aids and gadgets available that have been specially designed to make activities such as cooking, getting dressed and driving easier, and they can make a huge difference when it comes to being independent.

Aids available include cutlery, kitchen utensils, jar and bottle openers. If putting socks on is a mission, there are handy tools that help you to pull them on with very little bending, while you can also get a gadget to attach to your keys, providing extra leverage so it is easier to turn them in the lock.

Some companies that sell mobility aids also hire them out. Arthritis New Zealand's educators can supply information about where to find suitable products.

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