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5 Life hacks for arthritis sufferers that really work

Sandra Hinchliffe

After being diagnosed with several autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, my entire world was turned upside down. Life as I knew it would never work the same way again. “Hacking” life is the key, in my opinion as a patient, to surviving and thriving with autoimmune disease — whether it is RA, lupus or another autoimmune condition (arthritis almost always comes along for the ride).

Today, I’ve got 5 great tips for hacking your arthritis: 

  1. Make washing dishes a whole lot less painful in terms of standing on your feet and scrubbing if you don’t have a dishwasher — or even if you do have a dishwasher and can’t bend or grasp dishes well enough to load it on a bad day — by using automatic dishwashing powder or liquid in the sink to soak the dishes clean. Plug and fill your sink with hot water, and dissolve a tablespoon or more of automatic dishwasher powder or liquid (more if the dishes are very greasy). Soak all your dirty dishes for an hour or more — the automatic dishwashing solution will act as it does in the dishwasher to dissolve the food and grease without using elbow grease! Drain the sink, rinse your dishes by hand, and put them in the sink-side dish drainer to air-dry. They will be very clean, as if they went through a dishwasher.
  2. Ditch the heavy upright push vacuum, and invest in a small, lightweight — but powerful — canister vacuum with wheels and long or telescopic attachments for vacuuming chores. You’ll find yourself bending and stooping less, and less hand-gripping is needed to handle the lightweight long attachments than to use a heavier upright push vacuum. Some models of canister vacuums can be carried comfortably on your back like a backpack while you wield the lightweight attachments like a cleaning pro!
  3. Buy scissors — and lots of them! Every year during back to school, stores offer incredible deals on items like utility or kitchen scissors. Buy a dozen or more cheap pairs to have everywhere in the house, and never stress your painful finger joints again ripping open bags or doing other tasks. Scissors can also take the place of your knives and cutting boards when cutting meat and some vegetables for cooking. Simply cut the meat and veggies with scissors directly into the pan for cooking.
  4. Create a house on wheels — this is one of my best hacks: 90 percent of my furniture is on wheels. You can purchase furniture that already has wheels, or you can retrofit your furniture with wheels so that it’s always easy and pain free to move for cleaning and rearranging. Your local hardware store will have the wheels and fittings you need to turn your home into a pain-free house on wheels.
  5. Make a bedside kitchen and spa — we all know what it is like to wake up in the morning stiff as a board and in pain and the struggle to get up and get relief. Have a mini fridge and small stand next to your bed, stocked with everything you need to help yourself in the mornings without much effort. Mine is stocked with bottles of water, a small coffeemaker, fresh towels, lotions, ice and heat packs and my prescription medicines. The minute I wake up, I need help, and having it right there for me helps me lessen stiffness and pain right away.

Sandra Hinchliffe is a home herbalist, autoimmune disease survivor and legal medical cannabis patient in the state of California. She is also the publisher of — the first cannabis-centric blog to feature beauty, fashion, wellness and lifestyle topics — the founder of the SpaKind app and the author of the new book The Cannabis Spa at Home: How to Make Marijuana-Infused Lotions, Massage Oils, Ointments, Bath Salts, Spa Nosh, and More (Skyhorse Publishing 2015).

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