How to Clean When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Experts share tips on accomplishing your spring cleaning to-do list—minus the rheumatoid arthritis pain!
Tend to your garden
“I tell patients with arthritis that they should be more aware of the nicks and scrapes that come with gardening than other folks,” says Gallucci. Why? “When hands are already prone to inflammation, small cuts—and especially jagged lacerations—can compound swelling and pain.” Luckily, the solution is easy: Invest in a great, slim-fitting pair of gardening gloves!
Tip! Pulling weeds? In between all that repetitive motion, slowly flex each finger backward, just slightly. “This is a yoga-like move called a ‘differential hand stretch’—I do it all the time before surgery!” says Dr. Baxamusa.
Paint exterior trim
“Just because you can do the motions required for a painting project doesn’t mean you should do them for hours at a time,” notes Gallucci. “In the spring, my practice sees a tremendous number of shoulder injuries due to painting: impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tendinitis and more. I suggest working in 20-minute intervals—and stretching your shoulders before and after each work period—to prevent pain.” Another great option? “Hire the neighbor kid to do it!”
Tip! If you do a lot of painting, think about buying an angled paintbrush. Designed with an L-shaped offset handle, the tool forces your arms and shoulders to do the work normally done by hands and wrists.
Plan an all-day cleanup
“You wouldn’t tackle a marathon without training, but patients often decide to spend a full weekend tackling chore after chore, especially if they’re selling a house or prepping for guests,” says Dr. Baxamusa. “It’s never a good idea: You’re much better off spreading out the tasks over two weeks.” Gallucci agrees: “After virtually hibernating during winter, people start taking on big projects and spending all day outside. Yes, the sunshine is tempting—but pace yourself and you’ll enjoy better health!”
Tip! Have a to-do list that’s too long to ignore? Alternate tasks that stress different parts of your body and different groups of joints. For example, dusting a ceiling fan in the morning should be followed by something that doesn’t tax your shoulders, like bending to clean out a drawer.