Living with arthritis is difficult. Battling arthritic pain in the mornings is especially challenging.
Waking up to arthritis pain gets your day started off on the wrong foot. You have tasks to do, people to talk to, places to be. And arthritis interrupts those plans!
The morning hours tend to be the worst time of day for many of my patients.
That’s because arthritis feeds on inactivity. When your joints are immobile for an extended period of time (like during the night when you sleep), they become stiff and painful.
What can you do to improve your morning routine and ease those arthritis struggles?
Keep reading for some simple suggestions that other patients have had success with.
Take Advantage of Heat
Applying heat to arthritic joints is known to reduce stiffness and even decrease muscle spasms.
Often referred to as heat therapy, heat causes your blood vessels to dilate, which in turn, increases your blood flow. The extra blood circulation allows your joints and muscles to receive the nutrients and oxygen they need to function.
When you wake up, take the first 15 minutes of your day to heat up. Turn on a heated blanket or heated mattress cover, then soak up that warmth while in the comfort of your own bed.
Another option to get that boost of heat is to take a hot shower.
Prep the Night Before
For many of us, mornings are hectic. So many things to accomplish and so little time.
When you prep for the next day beforehand, you set yourself up for success. Select your outfit. Do the ironing. Pre-tie neckties. Compile together your purse, briefcase, umbrella, car keys, etc.
The point of this recommendation is to think of certain steps you can cut out of your morning routine, and instead, do those things the night before.
When your joints are not at their best, a long to-do list can be rather daunting.
Adjust your Medication Regime
Do you feel your meds take a bit of time before they kick in?
If you are the type of person that can easily fall back asleep, set an alarm to take your medications one hour before you need to get up for the day.
The key is to have your pills and a drink right by your bedside, then you don’t have to get out of bed. Simply go back to sleep and let those meds get to work while you rest a bit more.
Plan a Hassle-Free Breakfast
When in pain, some of my patients find it hard to chew and stomach heavy food.
The solution? Drink your breakfast! Smoothies for the win!
If fruit smoothies aren’t your cup of tea (wink, wink - another breakfast option), consider drinkable yogurts or protein drinks.
Others prefer to stock their refrigerators with easy-to-grab breakfast items, such as hard-boiled eggs or fresh fruit.
Additional breakfast options include a piece of toast with avocado spread or overnight oats.
Select Arthritis-Friendly Clothing
Getting dressed can be quite the headache when your joints don’t want to work as they should. This is particularly true for patients with limited finger or hand capabilities.
Arthritis-friendly clothing can make a world of difference!
Avoid clothing with buttons or zippers. Find pants with elastic waistbands. Choose loose-fitting tops that have larger arm holes. Wear shoes without laces.
If these are not realistic clothing options for your lifestyle or workplace, you could purchase dressing tools - tools designed to help you pull up those zippers or fasten small buttons.
Find What Works Best for You
The tips and tricks that work for one individual might not be helpful or successful for another.
For example, some patients sleep in compression gloves. They feel the extra pressure reduces swelling and keeps their fingers flexible and more mobile.
Other patients do not like the added pressure and would not see compression gloves as a way to improve their morning routine.
Arthritis is an individual journey. It is a condition that affects everyone differently.
The goal is to find what works best for you!
Here at Paducah Rheumatology, we understand that the treatment plan for one patient might not be the right fit for another.
Our patients receive personalized care designed to fit their specific needs.
We know living with arthritis is not easy, and we would love to help you configure a plan of action to make the most of your mornings.
Give us a call today at 270-408-6100.