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Don’t Let Arthritis Take You Away From the Things You Love

On top of dealing with chronic pain, sleepless nights, and overwhelming fatigue, the inability to do the things that you love is perhaps the most overwhelming thing that you have to deal with as an arthritis patient.

After diagnosis, you find yourself having to give up a lot of things to manage your disease. Because you don’t want to hold your friends and family back from doing the things you all love, you take a step back and essentially remove yourself from situations where they might have to compromise. And eventually you’re spending more time at home, alone, and feeling helpless about your condition.

As much as we’d like to say that there’s a magical solution to this problem, the truth is, this is a reality that a lot of arthritis sufferers have to face. That’s not to say however, there’s no way around it. Often, you just have to look at the underlying passion that drives your interest for a particular activity or past time, and you’ll find a low-impact, equally enjoyable alternative.

To illustrate, here are some examples on how you can shift your passions while taking it easy on your joints—

1. If you loved playing sports…

Basketball, tennis, volleyball, golf, bowling—whatever sport you were most into may now be too much for your joints to handle. But the spirit of camaraderie and competition that is present in active ball sports are present in other activities as well. Try gathering friends over for game nights. Board games are a great alternative that also lets you spend time with family friends.

2. If you loved expressing creativity by creating art…

There are numerous ways for you to still display your passion for creativity even if you can no longer draw, paint, sculpt, do pottery, or woodwork. Channel your appreciation for the arts by visiting museums and galleries. You can even try volunteering at local art groups or daycares to share your love for the arts and creative skills.

3. If you loved water sports…

Adrenaline-fuelled water sports such as surfing, water skiing, white-water rafting all sound exciting, but sadly, are no longer feasible for anyone suffering from arthritis. That doesn’t mean that you have to completely give up the ocean though. You can try snorkeling or diving; or you can try kayaking (using a lightweight kayak) on gentle waters, which is another activity that’s easy on your lower joints.

4. If you loved gardening…

A lot of people in this community are big fans of gardening. But crouching down low and working with your hands isn’t the easiest activity for your joints. As an alternative, you can try offering your extensive gardening experience to the local botanical garden.

5. If you loved backpacking…

Globe-trotting and backpacking when you have arthritis can be difficult. The long flights, heavy packs, long walks—all these can take a toll on your joints. But you don’t necessarily have to completely give up your love of exploring new cultures and places because of your condition. You just have to prepare more before you do. Plan ahead and make sure that your flights have layovers that will allow you to rest and stretch.

Make sure that you bring aids such as compression sleeves or elbow support that will help facilitate better blood flow to affected joints during your travel and give you the support you need, especially if there are long flights involved or active activities. Opt for a hotel that’s centrally located to the best sights and attractions. This prevents you from having to walk extended distances with the weight of your entire backpack  on your back.

Make no mistake—arthritis will require you to change your lifestyle. But learning how to cope and recognizing what you can do to make sure that these changes don’t completely disrupt your way of life is key to managing your condition.

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