Patient Blogs | Rheumatoid Arthritis
Hacks and Gadgets That Help Me Manage My RA
pill organizer

I’m a marketing executive's dream. If the product has bright packaging, offers to smooth a wrinkle, to drop a pound, or to make life easier, I want to try it! I’ve worked my way through plenty of makeup and skin care products, exercise gear, kitchen gadgets, and household tools to find my favorites. Seriously, Oprah should step aside and make way for my list of favorite things.

I’ve spent a lifetime developing my list of tried and true products, but they were never that important until I developed rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My favorite RA hacks and gadgets help make my life easier by conserving my energy and reducing my pain so that I can spend time focusing on the things I want to do versus on the things I have to do.   

My hands and wrists are my RA trouble spots. They tend to be the peskiest by being sore and achy, and quite frankly there are days they won’t cooperate at all. I’ve found a few hacks and gadgets that help save my hands from torment and distress.

Hand warmers. I love them! I order a bulk box each winter, and I use every last one of them. They are perfect to take the chill off a cold day or provide relief for achiness. I also have fingerless gloves with a pocket that keeps the hand warmer in place. I wear them around the house when doing chores and even when driving.

Food chopper. Chopping vegetables is a killer for me. A food chopper makes it so easy to chop vegetables with one or two plunges of the chopper or the touch of a button on the food processors. One downside is that you still must clean up the mess. The produce sections of most grocery stores have many chopped, diced, and sliced items -- celery, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, peppers, and even garlic. They cost more, but chopped items save me time and energy for preparation and clean up. (Frozen chopped onions are my all-time favorite.)

Pill box. I hate opening prescription pill bottles. Once a week, I ask my husband to open the bottles, and I fill a pill box for the next 7 days. This also helps with my morning routine and medication adherence.

Phone stand. Your hands will thank you for getting a phone stand. I am shocked by how much stress my hands endure holding my phone, especially now that so much of my workday is taking place virtually. You’ll be amazed by how much more relaxed your hands are after using a stand several times a day.   

Electric can opener. I will never forget the Christmas my uncle gave my grandmother something that was all the rage: an electric can opener. While we were mesmerized with how swiftly and expertly it sliced open tuna cans, my grandmother fussed and fumed. She insisted nothing was wrong with a regular can opener and that an electric device was just too fancy for her and would only take up counter space. After that Christmas, I never saw my grandmother use a can opener again. She loved her electric can opener, and we were all smart enough to know that we shouldn’t point out she swore she would never use it. Follow my grandmother’s lead and use an electric can opener. While you’re at it, get the electric wine opener. Both items are game changers for RA hands.

Jar opener. I haven’t used an electric jar opener, but I do recommend the manual version.

Wine cooler. Have you seen the flexible ice packs designed to chill a bottle of wine in 5 minutes? Well, they’re also great to ice your hands and wrists. They’re flexible and a perfect fit to stay in place on your hands and wrists. An added bonus is their fold-flat design allows for easy storage in the freezer so you have room for those frozen chopped onions.

Just so your knees and feet don’t feel neglected, I will share a few favorites I have for my lower body.

Grabber. A grabber helps you get things off the floor without having to get down on your knees or lean over too far. It also alleviates the chance that you might get stuck on the floor for a while. Haven’t we all been there? You get down on your knees to get something from the back of the closet only to find it is so difficult to get back up. A grabber takes care of it! I also find it handy for getting stuff out of the washer and dryer. 

Copper knee sleeve. I found the copper knee sleeves are thin enough you can wear them under pants or long skirts. They offer support, compression, and relief! The sleeves are comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time and make a long workday more bearable.   

Foot band for plantar fasciitis. Prior to RA, I struggled with plantar fasciitis when I played too much tennis. I bought 3-inch elastic bands to slip around the arch of my foot. They were great to treat plantar fasciitis, and they’re also excellent relief for RA. You can wear them with almost any shoe, and they come in different colors so you can pull off wearing them without people noticing. I find them helpful for exercise, hiking, and even walking on the sand at the beach.

Frozen bottle of water. Another plantar fasciitis trick that works for RA is rolling your foot over a frozen bottle of water. It provides cold therapy for inflammation and gentle movement for the foot and ankle.

Socks with cooling pads. A final recommendation for the feet is a pair of socks that are made to hold cooling pads. You store the pads in the freezer and slip them into the socks to provide relief on the top and bottom of the foot. You can also use the socks with hand warmers to provide heat relief if needed. It’s a win-win product!

I hope some of these tidbits will help ease the impacts of RA in your life. I would love to hear what you would add to your favorites list because I am always looking for the latest and greatest for tackling my RA.  

 

 

Photo Credit: LEA PATERSON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images

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Ryn Millican

Ryn Millican

Diagnosed since 2016

Ryn Millican’s been learning to balance her professional and personal lives with rheumatoid arthritis for the past five years. With a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, she is able to maintain an active life with minimal disruptions. Ryn lives in Raleigh, NC, with her husband, son, and dog, Weezie. Her passions include traveling, cheering on her Paladins and Tarheels, and all things politics. 

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