The holidays are coming, and with them, long hours in the kitchen to make elaborate Christmas dinners, pack picnic baskets, and bake tasty desserts. But while the festive season is usually an occasion to look forward to, wrist arthritis can make it a dreaded time. Luckily, there are ways to manage wrist arthritis while cooking. From the best appliances to activity modifications, here’s how to keep arthritis symptoms in check in the kitchen.
Anatomy of wrist arthritis
Wrist arthritis comes in a few forms:
- Osteoarthritis develops with gradual wear and tear of the wrist cartilage as we age
- Posttraumatic arthritis starts with a wrist injury that changes the mechanics of the joint. Over time, these changes can start wearing away the cartilage
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your immune system to destroy healthy cartilage
- Psoriatic arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis. It also involves the immune system attacking healthy tissues, causing an inflammatory immune response. But in psoriatic arthritis, the disease also affects the skin, causing red and scaly patches to pop up.
But no matter which type you have, wrist arthritis will typically lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joint that can make an activity like cooking - which demands a lot of movement from the wrist - difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to cook without prompting too many flare-ups.
Get arthritis-friendly kitchen tools
Step 1 of creating an arthritis-friendly kitchen and cooking process is investing in the right appliances and cookware. Luckily, there are tons of options out there that will make cooking a significantly easier and less painful process.
- Stand mixers to help you cut down on mixing by hand
- Drink mixers for whisking. These are light appliances with a relatively large grip
- Lightweight pots and pans to avoid straining your wrist when serving or flipping
- A multi-setting blender that can liquefy, chop, slice, and dice
- Easy-grip cooking utensils. The larger grip will make for easier handling
- Electric carving knife. This will do the bulk of the work for you when serving up ham, chicken, or turkey at Christmas dinner
- Jar opener. You can opt for an easy-twist grip if you just want some help manually opening jars. Alternatively, there are automatic openers if you find jar opening painful or difficult. You just put the jar where it tells you, and it will handle the rest!
- Rocking vegetable chopper. This double-handed blade will make any manual chopping you need to do much more manageable.
It can be hard to break habits ingrained by years of cooking. But to avoid wrist pain in the kitchen, you’ll need to make a few adjustments.
- Use larger muscles when you can. For example, instead of focusing on your wrist to cut or open things, use the strength in your upper arms and shoulder.
- Experiment with different grips to see what aggravates your arthritis the least and use that going forward
- Instead of toughing it out and trying to carry heavy pots or frying pans with one hand, use both (just make sure to use an oven mitt or kitchen towel where necessary).
- If you have arthritis only in one hand, try using the other as much as possible. However, if the condition affects your dominant hand, we would not recommend doing anything dangerous with it (like chopping).
Wear a wrist arthritis brace
A quality brace can support the joint and relieve pain throughout the cooking process. For the early stages of wrist arthritis, a compression support is best. Compression knit fabric works to reduce swelling, pain, and tension. It does so by:
- Applying gentle pressure to the wrist that stimulates the muscles to help them act as better supports for the joint.
- Working with sewn-in pads to massage and relieve tender areas
- Boosting blood flow to minimise fluid build-up and warm up muscle fibres, thereby relieving the swelling and tension commonly caused by the condition
ManuTrain Wrist Support
For more advanced stages, you can opt for a rigid brace like the ManuLoc. It will provide ample support for your wrist joint while allowing regular hand movement. Its anatomically contoured and padded design will ensure comfortable wear, and its strapping system will let you adjust it to accommodate any swelling.
Cut down on cutting (and mixing)
Chopping, slicing, stirring, and mixing are those fine motor movements that can really aggravate an arthritic joint. Ideally, you should get kitchen appliances that can do the work for you. Alternatively, buy pre-chopped ingredients when you can and try keeping your wrist still while mixing, moving only your elbow and upper arm.
Arthritis pain can worsen after long periods of activity, especially if the activity uses repetitive motions. So, if you can, spread your cooking sessions out throughout the day. For example, prepare in the morning (rolling dough, mixing batter, chopping fruits) and cook in the afternoon or evening.
If you need to cook for several hours in one sitting, take a break every 30 minutes or so to rest your hands or do some physiotherapy stretches.
Ask for help
If you can, ask a friend or family member to help you. Splitting the cooking load between 2 or 3 people will take a lot of pressure off your wrist.
Take steps to manage your condition
Ideally, you should also take precautions to manage your wrist arthritis outside of cooking. Some good steps to take include:
- Strengthening exercises for the hands and forearms
- Stretches for the hands and wrists
- Cutting down on activities that aggravate the condition
- Eating a healthy diet. Vitamins C and K and fish oil can help reduce pain and improve cartilage health.
- Physiotherapy to work on pain and mobility
To sum up
The holiday season doesn’t have to be a pain! If you have wrist arthritis, there are many workarounds to make cooking easier on your arthritic joint. You can also do plenty of things (like wearing a brace, getting enough fish oil, and regularly seeing a physiotherapist) to help you manage the condition in day-to-day life.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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