Have a Pain-Free Holiday With Rheumatoid Arthritis

With all the baking, carving and gift wrapping, the holidays can take a toll on your joints. Sidestep pain with these expert tips.

Diana Bierman

It’s that time of year again—the holidays mean family, friends, food and fun! But they can also mean flares, fatigue and stress if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The good news: With a little planning, a few shortcuts and a good attitude, you can get back into the holiday spirit. Here’s how.

1. Opt for gift bags.
Bagging your gifts doesn’t require as much hand dexterity as wrapping them—and looks just as impressive! And if you’re buying gifts at the store, remember to ask the sales clerk if they offer free gift wrapping (some stores charge a small fee).

2. Try this decorating shortcut.
Net lighting! It allows you to drape on your holiday lights instead of hanging them. Layer them over your inside tree or even outside over bushes and shrubs. Find them at noveltylights.com.

3. Lighten your baking load.
You can give your hands a break by using cheap, disposable foil versions of heavy glass or metal bakeware.

4. Give your outfit some pep!
Research shows wearing bright colors like red, yellow or green can boost your energy and overall mood. On days you’re feeling fatigued, make sure to throw on an outfit that’s colorful and vibrant.

5. Frying made easy.
Scrubbing pans can be a recipe for sore hands and fingers. Try lining your skillet with aluminum foil when cooking. When the food’s done and cooled, lift the foil onto a plate.

6. Pumpkin carving too tough?
Use decorating kits! You can make a jack-o’-lantern with just about any face imaginable (traditional ones, animals, pirates—you name it!). These nifty kits come with self-adhesive foam pieces that provide all the fun of decorating minus the mess! If you’re feeling artistic, you can also paint on faces using spray paint, acrylics or even permanent markers.

7. Embrace online shopping.
Avoid holiday crowds by ordering gifts on the Inte­rnet. Another perk? There’s usually more in stock online than in the stores!

8. Cooking corn?
Cleaning this veggie can be a pain, but not if you use a toothbrush! Use the bristles to brush away stray threads of silk—without straining your hands or wrists.

9. Getting dressed making you stressed?
You already know to lay out your outfit the night before. Now try this: Order items from what goes on first to what goes on last to make getting ready even more effortless.


10. Give your marinades a kick!
For a spicy twist on old favorites, add inflammation-fighting ingredients like ginger or turmeric to your sauces (they’re especially yummy in meat marinades). Don’t like the hot stuff? Try adding tart cherries or cranberries, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.

April 2013