Try these tactics to reduce pain and start your day right.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are often worse in the morning. The stiffness and pain can interfere with your morning routines, such as bathing and dressing, which makes it difficult to get to work on time. Many people decide to take early retirement because rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can make it hard to get to work on time.
Here are some strategies that may help streamline your morning tasks and make dressing, grooming and preparing for your day easier and less painful.
Before you go to bed, set out your morning pain medications next to your bed with crackers and water. Take them before you hit the snooze button in the morning.
Even before you get out of bed, try some gentle stretches. Move your arms over your head, wiggle your feet, bend your knees, swivel your head, and rock your hips back and forth. Movement tends to loosen up stiff joints.
Heat can help ease morning stiffness.
- Schedule a programmable heating pad or electric blanket to turn on 15 minutes before your alarm rings.
- Take a warm shower.
- Warm up your clothes in the dryer before dressing.
To ease stress on your joints, you may want to:
- Sit down in the shower on a bath bench or shower chair
- Install grab bars in the shower or bathtub
- Use pump dispensers for soap, shampoo and toothpaste
- Employ long-handled sponges or brushes for hard to reach areas
- Try electric razors and toothbrushes
Select clothing made of stretchy fabric. Front openings are easier to manage, as are elastic waistbands. Coats with a silky lining are easier to get on and off. Choose fasteners that are simpler to grasp, such as zippers with large tabs, large buttons, or large hooks. Try slip-on shoes or shoes with elastic shoelaces or Velcro closures.
Lay out your clothes the night before, in the order you plan to put them on. Pre-tie your tie or scarf so that you can just slip it over your head. Sit down while dressing and insert your weaker limb first. Tools to aid dressing include:
- Button hook for small buttons
- Sock aid to help slip your socks on
- Long-handled shoehorn
Have something ready to go in the fridge, such as hard-boiled eggs or pre-made steel-cut oatmeal and fruit. Set your coffee maker on a timer, so it's ready when you are.
Sept. 15, 2020
- Orange DE, et al. Rheumatoid arthritis morning stiffness is associated with synovial fibrin and neutrophils. Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2020; doi:10.1002/art.41141.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. American College of Rheumatology. https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis. Accessed April 6, 2020.
- Nine tips for better mornings with arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/emotional-well-being/stress-management/9-tips-for-better-mornings-with-arthritis. Accessed April 8, 2020.
- Office of Patient Education. Arthritis: Caring for your joints. Mayo Clinic; 2017.