Crafting With Psoriatic Arthritisby Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
Summer graduations, weddings, and baby showers are all great occasions to show off your crafting skills. Read on to learn some tips and tricks to keep you crafting if you are living with psoriatic arthritis.
Spend a Little More Money on the Tools of Your Craft
The old saying: “Pay me now, or pay me later,” may be appropriate if your crafting tools are getting old and worn out. Spending a little extra money now on things like sharp scissors or a light-weight sewing machine, may be an investment that will save you time and pain later.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, stress is a common trigger for a psoriasis flare. While crafting is usually relaxing, if you have promised yourself or others more than you can deliver in a short time frame, this can create stress. Planning ahead and giving yourself more time than you think you will need can make crafting projects less stressful.
Consider Adapting Your Art Form
Grandma Moses reportedly began painting at the age of 78, after her arthritis made needlepoint painful. Giving up something that you have enjoyed for years can be incredibly sad and difficult. However, if you see the change like Grandma Moses did, your new medium may bring you more joy and success than you ever imagined.
Set up an Ergonomic Workspace
Back pain is common with psoriatic arthritis. Knowing your work area is the correct height can be key to staying pain free. It may also be helpful to spend more time setting up your crafting project so that your materials are well organized and within easy reach. This will prevent you from having to get up and down frequently or twisting beyond your natural reach.
Consider the Time of Day
We all have times of the day when we feel better or worse. With psoriatic arthritis, you may experience more stiffness in the morning. Planning your crafting for the time of the day when you are typically at your best physically will be more productive and enjoyable.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Stretching your hands and wrists before you begin can loosen the tendons around your joints and create more blood flow to the area. It may also help to take a warm bath before you begin, especially if your craft requires you to reach extensively, like with a larger project. When you are finished crafting, consider applying ice or a cold compress to the areas of your body that you have worked the hardest to help control inflammation.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Shortcuts
Crafting is beneficial to your health and wellbeing. Allowing yourself to engage in the process without judgement may be more important than your final product. Especially if you are experiencing a flare up in your disease, consider working on a project that is already partially completed, or utilizing a shortcut in your crafting like using glue instead of sewing something together.
Make an Appointment With an Occupational Therapist
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do. If you find that your condition is preventing you from doing the things you love to do such as crafting, an occupational therapist may be able to evaluate your condition and then make suggestions on how to adjust your grips or movements so that you can continue to participate in the activities you enjoy.
Exercise to Strengthen Joints
Some types of crafting can be a relatively sedentary and require you to sit in one place for an extended period. Spending time doing larger muscle movements is also important for psoriatic arthritis. If you are the type of person who loses track of time when you are crafting, it is important that you set a timer so that you move frequently to prevent stiffness and keep the muscles throughout your body strong to support your joints.
Life is movement, even with psoriatic arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, activities such as knitting, cross stitch and crocheting can increase hand dexterity. Crafting also provides mental challenge and engagement necessary for successful aging. By following a few of these simple tips and tricks, you can continue to share your creativity with your friends and family.