The two handled teapot and other clever gadgets tackle arthritis
AROUND 750,000 people in Ireland have some form of arthritis and live in pain caused by inflammation in the joints.
The most common type is osteoarthritis as a result of wear and tear or injury which damages smooth cartilage tissue lining joints, making them stiff and painful.
Rheumatoid arthritis, where the body’s immune system attacks the joints, is less common but also leads to pain, swelling and erosion of the joint.
Both types can be extremely painful and worsen over time, leading to reduced strength and flexibility in joints — and limit patients’ independence to do everyday tasks.
But a range of specialist products and gadgets claim to ease the pain of sore, stiff joints or make life easier for people with arthritis.
Here, Dr Tom Margham, a GP and spokesman for Arthritis Research UK assesses a selection of these products. We then rated them.
SOCK-AID EASY SOCK ON & OFF KIT
THE Sock-Aid holds a sock open to make it easier to get on and off. It looks like a tube sliced in half, horizontally. Slide your sock over the end and onto the tube, then place the SockAid on the floor with the reach stick. You then slip your foot into the sock without bending or using your hands. The stick can also be used to remove your socks.
EXPERT VERDICT: With arthritis, getting dressed can be very difficult. Aids like this can be beneficial. The rod, which looks like a long handled shoe horn, can be useful for taking socks off and for getting the gadget off the floor. Because arthritis affects people’s strength, flexibility and range of movements in very different ways, you would need to try this out to see if it works for you. 4/5
MAGNET THERAPY GLOVES
€11.29, stressnomore. co.uk
THESE gloves have small magnets glued on them which are said to attract the iron in the blood and improve blood flow to relieve pain in the knuckles, fingers and wrists. They are made of nylon and Lycra so fit snugly and apply compression, which may help to reduce inflammation and increase strength in the hands.
EXPERT VERDICT: Some rheumatoid arthritis sufferers say compression gloves can help to ease pain and swelling in their hands and give better grip.
However, the gloves have to fit well if you want to see results. Too tight, and they could cut off circulation. Too loose, and you’re unlikely to see much benefit.
It would be best to get advice on the most appropriate gloves for you before buying online.
Although some say magnets ease their arthritic pain, there is no medical evidence to prove they work or improve circulation. 1/5
HEALTHSPAN SUPER STRENGTH ROSE HIP TABLETS
€17 for 90 tablets, healthspan.co.uk
TAKEN daily, this supplement is said to provide support for areas of the body susceptible to wear and tear. Each tablet contains 500mg rose hip extract.
EXPERT VERDICT: Rose hip extract contains high levels of powerful antioxidants, which, research suggests, may help to ease joint inflammation and prevent damage for people with arthritis.
Other studies suggest rose hip extract can help reduce enzymes that break down cartilage in the joints.
In other trials, taking rose hip daily has been shown to help relieve pain. However, they were short trials so it
is unclear whether the benefits will be long term. potential side-effects include diarrhoea, constipation and heartburn, and some nutritional supplements can interact with medion, so seek medical advice before taking them. 3/5
EAMLAND INTELLIHEAT AT PAD
BILLED as ‘the modern alternative to a hot water bottle’, this 40cm x 5cm, plug-in heat pad can be wrapped around any area of the body and has five heat settings to ease aches and pains.
EXPERT VERDICT: Many people with arthritis say heat therapy is useful in managing their pain. Heat can boost blood flow and stimulate fluid production, which lubricates and loosens stiff joints and muscles.
And it turns off after three hours, which, if you use it in bed, means you don’t have to worry about remembering to switch it off.
It's easiest to use on larger areas such as hips, back and shoulders. 4/5
VITABIOTICS JOINTACE PATCH €14.99 for eight, Boots
YOU stick these adhesive patches onto stiff joints: they’re infused with essential oils as well as the nutrients glucosamine and chondroitin, said to help regenerate connective tissue and cartilage around joints.
EXPERT VERDICT: The aromatherapy oils may have a supportive, cooling effect on inflamed joints, but it’s hard to say what level of nutrients will be absorbed through the skin and how beneficial they will be. However, glucosamine and chondroitin are important for cartilage elasticity and regeneration. You might be better taking them as an oral supplement for three months to see if they work.
Evidence that they ease osteoarthritis isn’t strong, but they may benefit some people. 2/5
TAP TURNERS €5.98, murrays.ie
ROBUST plastic levers — one blue, one red — that fit over taps, to make them easy to turn. EXPERT VERDICT: Turning a tap on and off can be painful and hard for arthritic hands. These help to reduce the pressure needed to turn the water on and off — which could help to reduce pain and discomfort for the user. On the down side, they fit only one style of tap, and might slip off if handled clumsily. 3/5
CELADRIN ACCELERATOR BALM €21.42 for 50ml, stressnomore.co.uk
CELADRIN is made from plant-based fatty acids, thought to have antiinflammatory and painrelieving qualities. This has a higher celadrin content than some other products and has added menthol for its soothing properties. It has been tested in trials and is said to reduce cartilage breakdown in joints and effects are said to be superior to glucosamine, chondroitin and other medication.
EXPERT VERDICT: Popular in the US, but relatively new here, this balm is designed to be applied to aching joints and muscles. Although several scientific studies have suggested fatty acid compounds can have a significant anti-inflammatory effect and improve movement in stiff, painful joints, more research is needed to prove if the benefits come from active ingredients being absorbed through the skin, or whether the act of massaging painful joints and muscles eases symptoms. 1/5
WADE DIGNITY TWO HANDLED TEAPOT
DEVELOPED with Stirling University, healthcare professionals and a panel of disabled people, this teapot (main picture) has two large handles to help make gripping easier and to steady it when pouring for people with disabilities such as arthritis.
EXPERT VERDICT: Making a cup of tea can be challenging for anyone with pain and stiffness in the hands. This is designed to distribute the weight of the pot across both handles so in theory, it’s easier to lift and pour — and may help make this simple, everyday task safer and less painful for some people with arthritis. The handles are quite wide, so there’s less chance of scalding your knuckles on the hot pot. 4/5
THE ORIGINAL COPPER HEELER INSOLES
THE theory is that copper can be absorbed by the skin, and has antiinflammatory effects, which may help relieve joint pain.
EXPERT VERDICT: These insoles are very thin and sit discreetly in your shoe, fastened on the underside with Velcro pads to make sure they don’t slip when walking.
Many people with arthritis wear copper bracelets or shoe inserts to reduce pain or stiffness, but there’s no evidence that arthritis is caused by a shortage of copper in your body, or that copper offers any medical benefit to sufferers.
That said, items like these can have a placebo effect, and they’re perfectly safe to wear — if pricey. 2/5
EASI-GRIP GARDEN TROWEL
€18, wheelchair solutions.ie
A TROWEL with an upright handle that offers better grip as it keeps the hand and wrist at a natural angle to minimise strain and pain.
EXPERT VERDICT: If you have arthritis, it’s important to keep moving to maintain mobility in the long term. Exercise such as light gardening is great for this and for building muscle: strong muscles support joints, while weak muscles can exacerbate the impact of arthritis.
The non-slip, vertical handle could make the grip more comfortable and the position your hand is in when you use the trowel should take some strain off the wrist. 4/5