Accessibility View Close toolbar

1310 Washington Street

Pella, IA 50219 US

641-628-2099

Open mobile navigation

6-13-18

Health Update

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC

Caring for Someone With Arthritis

Advice From a Physical Therapist

By Brett Sears, PT | Reviewed by a board-certified physician

Updated February 11, 2018

Caring for a friend or family member with arthritis can be a challenging—yet rewarding—experience. Your loved one may have difficulty managing various components of the disease process, and being available as a trusted ally in their care can make a positive difference. But what are the best ways to help someone with arthritis?

If you have arthritis, then you know how the stiffness and pain can limit your ability to move and function properly.

The pain from arthritis can prevent you from walking properly, using your hands and arms, and enjoying your normal work and recreational activities. Encouraging family members and friends to help with your care can ensure that you manage your condition well and remain functionally independent as long as possible.

Effects of Arthritis

There are different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and everyone experiences different symptoms of varying levels of severity when they have arthritis. Some common traits of arthritis may include:

Your loved one may have trouble with some tasks that may seem basic, or he or she may have difficulty managing activities that require the use of the legs, arms, or both. Understanding how their arthritis affects their day-to-day functional mobility can help you provide the best care for your friend or loved one.

Parenting Well With RA

Don't let rheumatoid arthritis get in the way of being a good parent. Explore tips from moms, ways to explain RA, and self-care tips that'll also help your family.

There are some things that you can do (or simply keep in mind) when caring for someone with arthritis. These may include:

  • Understand their condition. Having a clear understanding of your loved one's arthritis condition can help you determine where he or she may need assistance. For example, if your loved one has rheumatoid arthritis that affects their hand and upper extremity movement, he or she may need assistance with opening bottles and jars or managing fine motor tasks like handling medication. A person with knee osteoarthritis may have difficulty walking and navigating stairs.
  • Keep open lines of communication. Talking with your loved one or friend about their condition is a great way to understand how it affects them. And don't be shy about sharing your feelings about caring for someone; providing care and helping someone consistently may take an emotional toll on you.
  • Know when to help and when to stand back. Most people with arthritis want to remain as independent as possible. It may seem like a good idea to step in and assist with walking, bed mobility, or with tasks that require reaching. But be sure your loved one has the opportunity to be as functionally independent as possible, and know that he or she will ask for assistance when needed.
  • Help manage medication. Sometimes managing arthritis means managing various medicines. If your loved one has difficulty keeping drugs and dosages straight—or if they physically have difficulty handling medicine—be available to help.
  • Help with managing assistive devices. Some people with arthritis require assistive devices, like canes or walkers, to get around. Sometimes using these devices can be clunky or difficult to figure out. You may help your friend or loved one with arthritis by taking a few moments to learn how their assistive device should be used and how to operate it properly.
  • Encourage and help with exercise. Exercise has been proven to be beneficial for many people with arthritis. The movement helps keep joints lubricated and muscles strong. Plus, exercise can help maintain or improve functional mobility. But exercising can seem like a painful or daunting task for someone with arthritis. Encouraging exercise and helping your loved one perform their exercises properly is a great way to provide care for someone with arthritis. Plus, if your loved one requires joint surgery, you may be able to help with the post-operative exercises.

Keep in mind that your friend or loved one may go through periods where your care and assistance is welcomed and times when they wish to go it alone.

Try to remain flexible in your care, providing help when it is absolutely necessary and when it is welcomed.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Physical therapists are considered movement experts, and most are trained to assess and treat people with various forms of arthritis. If your friend or loved one has arthritis, encouraging them to visit a PT is a great way to learn strategies to effectively manage their condition.

If your loved one is going to therapy, ask if it is acceptable to tag along and see what is done. Be sure to remain non-obtrusive, but perhaps ask a few questions to get some pointers on how you can assist your loved one in their arthritis management.

Arthritis can be a tricky disease to manage, as it affects everyone differently with variable symptoms. Watching a friend or loved one struggle with arthritis management can be difficult, so finding ways to help can ensure that your friend or family member has the right support necessary to properly treat the symptoms and functional impairments that come with arthritis.

Source:

Feldthusen, C. et al. Effects of person-centered physical therapy on fatigue-related variables in persons with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Phys Med and Rehab: 97(1); 2016: 26-36.

Sign up now or call us at 641-628-2099 to make your appointment!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

6:30 am

6:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am

5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am

5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am

6:00 pm

Friday:

6:30 am

12:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

  • "I saw Doc when I was a senior at central college. He really took great care of me and the patients received great treatments. I just graduated chiropractic school 6 months ago and want to thank Doc for the motivation to pursue chiropractic school."
    Joel M. / Pella, IA

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Back to School and Mental Wellness

    Summer is a subjectively fleeting season and school days are upon us once again. For children, this bittersweet time marks the completion of a period of relative freedom and the beginning of a new set of responsibilities. For adults, the onset of late summer and early fall signals yet another turn of ...

    Read More
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries

    A repetitive motion injury (or overuse injury) involves doing an action over and over again, as with a baseball pitcher throwing a baseball, a tennis player hitting a tennis ball, typing at a computer keyboard, and most notoriously, typing with your thumbs on the tiny keypad of your phone. It may be ...

    Read More
  • Left-Handers Day

    Left-Handers Day Left-Handers Day, celebrated on August 15th, was launched in 1992 by the Left-Handers Club, an organization based in the United Kingdom. Since then, Left-Handers Day has become a worldwide event and social media phenomenon. Around the world, approximately one in ten persons is left-handed. ...

    Read More
  • Peak Experiences

    Peak Experiences The American philosopher and naturalist Henry David Thoreau roamed far and wide over the hills and mountains of his native Massachusetts and neighboring New Hampshire. In his masterwork, "Walden," Thoreau famously stated that we must "reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical ...

    Read More
  • Dynamic Warm-ups

    In a common occurrence, you bend over to pick up the pencil you inadvertently dropped on the floor. Or you bend over to pick up the soap bar that has slipped through your fingers in the shower. Or you bend over to lift a bag of groceries out of your automobile trunk. These are all daily events. But on ...

    Read More
  • Summer Sports

    Summer Sports In the summertime, everyone's thoughts turn to the outdoors. We want to get out in the sun and have some fun. Some people do exercise outdoors, such as running, walking, and biking, all year long regardless of the weather.1 For others, summer's warmer temperatures make activity outside ...

    Read More
  • Wellness Gardens

    Wellness Gardens When time is spent in an office or indoors day in and day out, some can lose that connection to the outside world. And that loss of connection can lead to higher stress levels and more health ailments without even realizing it. But when that the gap between office life and outdoor life ...

    Read More
  • Smart Shoulders

    Our shoulder joints have the greatest range of motion of any of the musculoskeletal joints in our bodies. The shoulder joint is really two joints, the glenohumeral joint between the arm bone (humerus) and the shoulder blade (scapula) and the acromioclavicular joint between the acromion (a bony projection off the scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). The glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket joint and the acromioclavicular joint is a gliding joint. ...

    Read More
  • A Book and Its Cover

    A book cover may not necessarily tell the whole story and may not accurately portray the nature of the contents within. Publishing companies pay high salaries to their marketing staff to create cover copy that will entice prospective buyers to make a purchase. But many times the book itself does not ...

    Read More
  • When Your Spine Is In Line

    Good spinal alignment means good biomechanical health. Essentially, your spine is the biomechanical center of your body. Your legs are connected to your spine via two large and strong pelvic bones. Your arms are connected to your spine via your shoulder blades, ribs, and numerous strong muscles and ligaments. ...

    Read More

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Sign up for more articles