Arthritis Relief – Care Kit Recommendations

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Fri Aug 05 2022.

Black and white photo of hand reaching out

If you have arthritis or care for someone who does, an easy-to-access home care kit can provide significant relief. When you have all of the necessary equipment on hand, you can address (and even prevent) painful flare-ups before they interfere with you or your loved one’s daily routine.  

To save you some time and energy, we’ve developed a list of care kit recommendations and joint-friendly life-hacks. But before we get there, it’s important to understand what arthritis is.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a rheumatic disease characterized by joint stiffness and inflammation. It can occur in any joint in the body and affects more than 50 million Americans of all ages. 

Even though there’s no cure for arthritis, most types respond well to conservative treatments like healthy lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medication, and behavioral modifications.  

What are some common types of arthritis?

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but some are more common than others. Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common—osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, causes cartilage—a soft, cushion-like substance that pads the joints—to break down. Without cartilage to provide a barrier, your bones rub against one another causing stiffness and pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It causes your body’s immune system to attack the synovium, a substance that lines your joints. Over time, this process causes inflammation, resulting in mobility issues, and in severe cases, deformity.

Gout. Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs due to excess uric acid. If there’s too much uric acid in your blood, it causes uric acid deposits to form in your joints. As these deposits get bigger, they cause pain, redness, and swelling.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

All types of arthritis affect the joints—areas of the body where two or more bones meet. Common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Stiffness

  • Redness

  • Decreased range of motion

When left untreated, arthritis can affect your ability to work, exercise, or perform other routine tasks. Early intervention and daily monitoring can significantly improve your quality of life.

What items should I include in a care kit for arthritis relief?

A care kit for arthritis relief should contain basic items that can quickly minimize uncomfortable symptoms (like joint pain), regardless of where they occur. Arthritis flare-ups are unpredictable, so it’s important you’re prepared at all times. We recommend including the following items in your care kit for arthritis relief:

Compression Garments. Compression garments are pieces of clothing made from materials like nylon or elastin. They’re incredibly stretchy but fit snugly around the skin. Wearing compression garments improves circulation to your muscles and joints, which limits the swelling and pain caused by arthritis. There are a variety of compression garments available, including gloves, stockings, leggings, and shirts.  

Medications with “Easy Open” caps. Arthritis can make it difficult to perform manual tasks that involve movements of the fingers or wrists. To accommodate those with arthritis, many drug manufacturers now produce bottles with “Easy Open” caps. An “Easy Open” cap is comfortable to grip and easy to turn, even if your joints are swollen or stiff. If you or your loved one take multiple medications, you may even want to consider an “Easy Open” daily pill organizer.

Mobility devices. Mobility devices make it easier to stand, walk, or climb stairs. There are several types of mobility devices and each has its own advantages. Consider factors like strength, balance, and fitness level to determine the type that will most benefit you or your loved one.

  • Canes. If you or your loved one have difficulty balancing or a medical condition that makes one side of your body weaker than the other, you might benefit from a cane.

  • WalkersIf you or your loved one feel unsteady on your feet, a walker can make it easier to get around.

  • Wheelchairs. If you or your loved one have a severe case of arthritis or need a joint replacement procedure, consider a wheelchair. There are both electric and manual options.

  • Stairlifts. If you or your loved one live in a home with multiple floors, it can be challenging to get around. A stairlift can reduce pressure on the knees and hips and help prevent falls.

Topical medications. Topical medications are ointments, gels, or lotions applied to the skin. There are dozens of topicals designed to treat arthritis, but there are four main categories—capsaicin, salicylates, counterirritants, and anesthetics.

  • Capsaicin. Capsaicin is a chemical component that gives chili peppers their heat. Arthritis creams that contain capsaicin deplete the nerve cells of the chemical responsible for sending pain signals to your brain.

  • Salicylates. Salicylates contain salicylic acid, a natural chemical produced by certain plants and the main ingredient in aspirin. When incorporated into topical medications, salicylic acid reduces pain and inflammation.

  • Counterirritants. Counterirritants contain ingredients like menthol or camphor. These substances trigger hot or cold temperature sensations that can override the symptoms of arthritis like pain and swelling.

  • Anesthetics. Anesthetics contain ingredients like lidocaine to numb your nerves and reduce pain. These topical medications come in cream, gel, and patch form.

Items for Hot and Cold Therapy. One of the easiest ways to reduce arthritis-related pain is to alternate between hot and cold therapy. Sitting in a hot bath or applying a heating pad to a swollen joint dilates your blood vessels, stimulating circulation and reducing muscle spasms. Conversely, ice causes your blood vessels to constrict, reducing swelling and inflammation.

There are several tools you can use for hot and cold therapy, including:

  • Hot water bottle

  • Heating pad

  • Ice pack

  • Bag of frozen vegetables

  • The Rice Sock. Fill a thick winter sock with one cup of rice and tie a knot in the end. Put the sock in the microwave for two to three minutes. Once it’s heated, apply the sock to a stiff or swollen joint and experience relief. This brief video shows you how to make a “rice sock” of your own!

Items for the bathroom. Over time, arthritis can make it difficult to bathe, brush your teeth, or comb your hair. Fortunately, there are several ways to make these daily tasks easier.

  • Get an electric toothbrush. Traditional manual toothbrushes require you to move your wrist back and forth. An electric toothbrush does the scrubbing for you. They also have larger handles, which makes them easier to hold onto.

  • Hairbrush hacks. If holding a traditional hairbrush hurts you or your loved one’s hands, wrap the handle in a piece of fabric. There are also handle-less brushes available that reduce pressure on the joints in the fingers and wrists.

  • Bathing. Foot and ankle arthritis can make it difficult to stand for an extended period. A shower seat or bath bench can make bathing more comfortable while reducing the risk of a slip or fall. To complement the shower seat, consider installing handrails inside the shower and next to the toilet.

By taking the time to create an at-home care kit filled with arthritis aids, you can better manage your symptoms and keep them in check. To complement your efforts, check out the following life hacks for managing arthritis pain:

In the kitchen:

  • Pre-line baking dishes with parchment paper to reduce the amount of dishwashing you have to do.

  • Use disposable plates, bowls, and silverware to make cleanup easier.

  • Keep important items at waist level, so you don’t have to reach up or bend down.

  • Meal prep once a week. This helps cut back on the amount of cutting, chopping, and stirring you have to do.

  • Order your groceries online, then pick them up or have them delivered.

Around the house:

  • Get a comfy robe so you don’t have to towel dry after a shower or a bath.

  • Transfer products in large bottles (like white vinegar or laundry detergent) into smaller containers so they’re easier to carry and transport.

  • Wear jewelry that doesn’t pinch your fingers, neck, or wrists. Think long necklaces, magnetic clasps, or omega back earrings.

  • Dress warmly. When your joints are cold, they’re stiffer and harder to move.

  • Use hangars instead of folding your clothes.

  • Remove clothing from the washer or dryer with tongs, so you don’t have to bend over.

Miscellaneous:

  • Keep an extra cane or walker in your car. 

  • Ditch your traditional garden for a horizontal wall garden (no more bending down.)

  • Don’t overdo it. Keep weight off the parts of your body that hurt.

What if I have questions about products for arthritis relief?

If you have questions about any of the products we carry for arthritis relief, please contact our friendly Care Team. Call (855) 855-1666 or send a message to support@carewell.com

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.