’Tis the Season to Side Step Joint Pain

From baking to building snowmen, you can make a few RA-friendly tweaks to ease joint pain and stay jolly this holiday season. 

Katie Alberts
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Looking forward to a season of decorating, caroling and parties? Our smart tips and rheumatoid arthritis-friendly strategies will help you sidestep joint pain and have a happy holiday.

Baking made easy
• Give your hands a rest. “Instead of using heavy metal bakeware, pick up disposable foil versions at the supermarket,” recommends Shelley Peterman Schwarz, author of Arthritis: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier. “They’re ultra-light, so you don’t have to strain to remove them from the oven.”
• Power up your pies. Apple, pecan and pumpkin pies are the perfect vehicle for getting your daily dose of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. Simply sprinkle ground flaxseed (a great source) on top and into the crust—you won’t even notice it’s there!
• Take a shortcut to the gingerbread house. Craft and baking stores sell kits with prebaked pieces, so you can get right to the fun part (and the part that’s easiest on hands)—assembling and decorating your custom structure! 

Party painlessly
• Scope out the room. “As soon as you walk in, look for a comfortable high seat,” says Schwarz. “Climbing out of a low-lying sofa or chair will strain joints, especially knees. But before you sit down, take a look at the food being offered. This way, when someone asks if they can bring you a plate, you’ll be able to tell them exactly what you want.”
• Mind your medications. Grapefruit, pomegranate and other juices used as mixers can interfere with arthritis prescriptions. Check with your pharmacist before you imbibe.
• Fill up on fish. If you see salmon, sardines or anchovies on the menu, snap them up. A recent study in Arthritis Research & Therapy found that the omega-3 fatty acids they contain don’t just fight inflammation—they may help slow down cartilage degeneration, too!
• Try this phrase while mingling. “Even if you’re in the middle of a conversation, it’s fine to ask, ‘Why don’t we go sit down?’ In fact, most people welcome the suggestion—even at cocktail parties!”

Shopping tips
• Order online. “Last year I realized that shopping for presents on the Internet can be just as special and personalized as being at the mall,” says Wren Vandever of RheumaBlog.wordpress.com. “You can really take the time to pick the perfect thing for everyone on your list without running around, wrapping and mailing—and you’ll have more energy for the fun part when Christmas arrives!”
• Wrap without scissors or tape. Want an alternative to fancy gift bags? “I like to wrap gifts in colored tin foil—just scrunch and you’re done,” says Schwarz.
• Apply for parking privileges. “Many people don’t know about temporary disabled parking permits, often available if a surgery or injury makes it difficult for you to get around,” says Schwarz.

April 2013