Arthritis - Living with arthritis 

Living with arthritis 

If you have arthritis, there are a number of things you can do to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

For example, you can:

  • control your weight to ease pressure on your joints
  • avoid stress or injury to your joints to prevent or reduce the severity of osteoarthritis
  • ensure good posture to strengthen healthy joint structure
  • use physiotherapy and a walking stick or cane to help prevent your condition getting worse
  • ensure that you regularly undertake weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, to help prevent osteoarthritis. This type of exercise will increase the strength of the muscles that support your joints

It is not true that avoiding exercise will help reduce joint problems occurring in later life.

Occupational therapy

Your GP can refer you to an occupational therapist who will be able to advise you about the equipment that you may need to assist your independent living.

They can also write supporting letters to your local social services department. If you need to adapt your home, a range of services and merchandise is available, so it is important to shop around.

Read more about occupational therapy.

Preventative measures

Arthritis can sometimes make you less flexible and less mobile. This can increase your risk of having an accident.

Listed below are a number of measures you can take to limit this risk.

  • Eliminate home hazards - always keep your home well lit and remove all loose wires and cords that you may trip over. Make sure treads, rugs and carpets are secure. Keep rubber mats by the sink and in the bath to prevent slipping and always clean up spills immediately. Install grab rails in the bathroom and toilet to help you stand up without falling. Your GP or local authority may be able to provide support and advice about safety in the home.
  • Improve your balance - exercise that helps improve your balance can prevent a fall. Being physically active can prevent up to 25% of falls. Ideal forms of exercise for improving balance include t'ai chiyoga and dance.
  • Exchange high heels for flats - high heels are bad for your posture and make you more prone to falling, so wear flat, comfortable footwear.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol - alcohol can affect your balance, making you more likely to take a knock or a fall. Keep within the government's recommended daily amounts of alcohol consumption (no more than 2-3 units for women and 3-4 units for men). A unit of alcohol is half a pint of normal strength lager or beer, one pub measure of spirit or one small glass of wine. Read more about alcohol units.
  • Check your sight - as you get older, you will probably experience some deterioration in your eyesight. It is important to get your sight checked regularly by a qualified optician. Poor eyesight can increase your risk of accident and injury.
  • Ask for help - if you know you have arthritis, avoid standing on chairs to reach high cupboards or change a light bulb. Also, try to avoid doing chores that you know will cause more pain. Write a list of the jobs that need to be done around the house and save it for the next time your friends or family visit.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) provides more information about safety in the home.

Arthritis Care also has more information about living with arthritis.

Page last reviewed: 11/04/2012

Next review due: 11/04/2014

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Will I lose my driving licence?

If you have arthritis, you will need to contact the DVLA to tell them about your condition.

It's unlikely that you'll have to retake your driving test, unless you have severe mobility problems.

The Directgov website has further information about how to tell the DVLA that you have stopped or need to stop driving.

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