Arthritis: Minimize the difficulty

Here we are, much older than we used to be and almost all of us suffer from the discomfort of arthritis in various places.
Even at a moderate level of pain we find ourselves avoiding lifting, bending, and reaching, as all of those movements – and especially something sudden – hurts. My hands are sore most of the time and manual dexterity has diminished to the point where I have to focus on any task for which I use my fingers. Even then, some efforts are to no avail, so I need to try another way or use a tool to assist me. I also have a new knee, hip and chronic back pain. It sounds pretty desperate but I have created and/or purchased some devices or changed my methods so that I can really minimize the effort to do a great variety of things that used to be easy.

One of my favourite places is our garage, where I spend hours almost every day I am in town. The frequency of bending and reaching can make it truly painful and frustrating, because it hurts to do any of that. In the garage, the work-bench and all the storage boxes on the floor under the shelves have casters (wheels) on them so there is no lifting or reaching to move them. Frequently used items are kept at waist to eye level to avoid reaching. An item I purchased is called a “reacher” and has a jaw-like front controlled by a trigger at the near end. It has a small magnet and a hook at the front as well. Easily operated, it works to pull or grip things that are not heavy. I also have a trio of 4-foot dowels, two with strong magnets and one with a hook at the end. The hook pulls things, high or low, and the magnets pick up dropped tools, screws, bolts or nails. I also keep very handy a set of heavy duty knee pads as I cannot kneel at all on my new knee. Where possible, any painting that I must do is done with a roller with a 3-4 foot extension on it.

At our cabin, all the furniture – including dressers, book shelves and kitchen table – are on casters, so moving them in order to clean is a pain-free exercise. Things are arranged to minimize reaching or bending and a jaw-type reacher is at hand as well as a hook-type. Kitchen wood-boxes and the portable generator are also on wheels. As much as possible a wheelbarrow or quad trailer moves everything outside.

In my mid-size truck with a canopy, I have a shelf near the front of the box. To get tools, boxes etc. up on that shelf, I use two side by side 1x4s as a ramp and push the item up the ramp with my hook-type reacher made from a hockey stick. The hook is used to pull the item back off the shelf. If I must get up into the truck box I have another set of high quality knee pads in a bag in the truck box. Anything on the floor of the truck box is simply hooked with the reacher and pulled to the rear.

These suggestions, along with learning how to decide what not to do and what not to do, will not make life perfect but they can reduce your pain levels to where life is a little more enjoyable.

That’s a real pain in the back!

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