Better Me

So, You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis – What Now?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the joints – instead of the typical bacteria and viruses that it should attack. Unfortunately, this disease can be quite painful and make everyday tasks more difficult. 

However, living with rheumatoid arthritis can be a little bit easier. Erica Illium, an athletic trainer at the Banner Sports Medicine and Concussion Center, shares some tips based on her personal experience with patients.

1. Keep everyday household items at “counter level” height for an easy reach.

Items that are used daily, or more than once daily, should be easily accessible to avoid more joint movement.

2. For items on higher shelves, a “trash grabber” might be helpful.

This might sound funny, but it works! This can help avoid too much of a reach and makes everything more accessible.

3. A Lazy Susan is beneficial for small items that are used often.

This, too, lessens the movements needed to reach each item. These can be used in practically any area of the house for items that you use daily. 

A Lazy Susan can be found at many local home stores – or it could even be a do-it-yourself project for a loved one! 

4. Reduce manual labor by investing in electric tools to avoid strenuous grip or injury.

This can range from an electric can opener to an electric wine opener – or even tools that can peel fruit or cut up vegetables. There are many tools available that can create less of a strain on the joints and less risk of cuts or scrapes. 

5. Utilize toilet bowl cleaning tablets to avoid bending.

Cleaning the toilet may seem like a simple task, but it can add strain to your joints as well. These cleaning tablets both eliminate the need for hunching over and cleaning the toilet!

6. Invest in a robot vacuum to avoid prolonged standing and poor posture.

Robot vacuums can clean the floor with no assistance from you - a great investment to create less pain for you. 

7. Have railings to assist with sitting and standing motions.

These devices can be used to make it easier for things such as toilets, stairs, beds and more.

8. Have a raised toilet seat to get up easier.

This simple fix can make a tedious task less frustrating.

9. Have non-slip mats around the house.

These mats create much better traction and lessen the risk of a fall. Consider using them, especially if you have tile or wood flooring in your home.

10. Always use your strongest joint to move large items.

This is very important. An example is – when pushing a door open, use the side of your arm and hip and walk forward, instead of using your wrist and fingers. 

Beyond these tips for easier day-to-day functions, “Remember to always ask for help,” Erica said. She also points out that you should always refer to your doctor for any medical advice regarding your rheumatoid arthritis.

To find a doctor near you, visit

Senior Health Wellness