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Osteoarthritis: Tips for Daily Living

Woman lifting plates.
Lift items with both hands.

Making a few changes in your daily life can reduce stress on your joints. This helps protect the joints from further damage.

Your surroundings

Make your home work for you:

  • Arrange cupboards, closets, desks, and drawers to reduce reaching and bending.

  • Arrange furniture to make it safer and easier to get around.

  • Secure or remove rugs, power cords, and other items that might make you slip or trip.

Think ahead

Plan in advance:

  • Combine errands so that you make fewer trips up and down stairs.

  • Break up packages so that you carry less weight with each trip. For example, ask cashiers to use more bags for your groceries.

  • If you need help with chores or errands, try to arrange for it in advance.

  • If you need to lift something heavy, ask for help.

  • Try to use other parts of your body if you have pain in certain joints.

Use what’s available

To rest your hands, back, and neck:

  • Make sure that knives are sharp.

  • Use a "reacher" or “grasper” to reach and grab.

  • Use soap-on-a-rope and a long-handled scrubber in the shower or bath.

To rest your knees, hips, and lower back:

  • Wear shoes that feel good, fit well, and provide good support.

  • Choose chairs with firm seats and armrests.

Assistive devices

Devices are available to help you:

  • In the kitchen, use light-weight dishes, cook and bakeware.

  • Attach larger handles to keys.

  • Use helpful gripping devices for opening jars. 

  • For gardening, use a rolling bench to sit on or to hold your tools. Use tools with padded handles.

  • In the bathroom, try using grab bars, a raised toilet seat, or a shower seat.

  • A cane, brace, or walker may help you walk more easily. Make sure that it’s properly fitted and that you’re trained to use it.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell art team.
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2018
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