With its muscle aches and chronic fatigue, HNPP can make the simplest activities painful and difficult. At its worst, it can make chores you once took for granted suddenly seem daunting. So what is available to help with these trying times?
“The number-one tool that one needs during a flare, by far, is this word called autonomy,” says Nortin Hadler, MD, a professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “It means the ability to pace the day and choose activities.”
Fortunately, there are an array of tools to control pain and lessen the burden on sore muscles.
If you have problems with your knee, raising the seat by a few inches can make all the difference. A seat lift assistant is a mechanical lifting cushion that you can take with you wherever you go.
There are dynamic sitting pads which are air filled cushions thought to aid active sitting and outstanding sitting comfort, while encouraging an upright posture. Specially designed pads, like the Sissel Sitfit Plus, make it easy to retrofit chairs for more comfortable seating. So what’s the verdict?
It’s been mostly praised by those suffering from various neuromuscular injuries including an Amazon customer who had a herniated disc. However, others have echoed the above opinion that durability may be an issue, and with a one year warranty, you may need to think a little more about investing in this.
On the upper-end of the scale is the Upeasy’s Power Seat and Seat Assist (electric and nonelectric, respectively), which will give you a gentle push on your way up. They can be used with pretty much any chair or sofa, and they’re portable. The lifting action is activated automatically as the user stands, lifting up to 70 per cent of their weight. Make sure to buy this product from a reputable dealer, some sellers using Amazon’s marketplace sell knock-off versions instead which break, according to a few reviewers.
Ergonomic Jar Opener
These specialised jar openers provide a strong, safe grip for opening many items and feature a comfortable, ergonomic handle. There are several options if you’re looking for help with opening jars or cans. Most of these provide four to eight different sizes of circles in a bid to release a variety of condiments.
I have a standard one from Amazon – and it’s not perfect. The grip needed just on the handle puts pressure on the hand itself, and if the jar is shut tight, it may not budge at all. However, I can swear on a jar popper – the Jarkey opens jars in a jiffy by simply releasing the vacuum.
Securely installed grip bars are a must for getting safely in and out of the bathtub.
If you don’t always need the help, there are portable versions that you can install as needed – these are also useful for travel. It’s important to get a good quality one, as a less than adequate grip can actually be dangerous if the suction isn’t strong enough while you’re trying access your bathtub or get up from anywhere.
Bridge Medical has been recommended as the company makes a single-grip bar, as well as a telescoping pivot-grip grab bar that can be installed at a variety of angles. There are several reviewers on Amazon however, who have complained that although it is well-made, the bar would not attach properly on to ceramic tiles or tubs hence becoming a liability. I’d suggest shopping around and checking out reviews to see if it’s worth the purchase.
When you have arthritic fingers, everyday tasks, such as eating your dinner, can be painful and difficult. You may need knives, forks and spoons with handles that are easy to grip and won’t slip out of your hands.
These eating utensils from Good Grips fit the bill with large, cushioned handles made of a rubber-like material. Each utensil has a metal shaft that can twist in any direction, making it easy to hold in a position that’s comfortable to you.
Electric Can Opener
These little beauties are fully automated – you don’t even have to hold the can. You place the gadget on a can, press a button, and the can opens. The integrated magnet lifts the lid off the can for easy disposal. Cans are cut around the sides to minimise sharp edges. Ideal for those with limited manual mobility.
Some products can be rather noisy, and there seems to be a whole host of other problems encountered by users including breaking on the first try, lids getting stuck, cutting on the outside of the can instead even the fact that it refuses to switch off.
According to BestReviews, the West Bend 77202 Electric Can Opener comes out on top with a powerful 70-watt motor, a locking/cutting mechanism, and an automatic shut-off feature.
Made especially for ring pull cans this specific can opener has a J shape that opens them easily. No more struggling to get your fingers under the tab, simply slip the tip under the tab and rock your hand back.
It has a comfort grip non-slip handle, perfect for those with arthritis, and is dishwasher safe. You may have to be slightly dexterous to try and insert this under the ring pull.
Slow cookers can make meals so much faster and easier. You have the ability to drop in all the ingredients in, turn it on and leave it… and if you buy one with the warming feature then your meal is still hot when everyone’s hungry.
It is perfect for making large batches of sauces, chillis, soups, etc. and freezing them for when you’re having a chronic pain flare up and all you can manage is too pull something out of the freezer.
Don’t assume more expensive options are better. Sometimes you’re paying for fancy controls, more timer options and even auto-stir functions. Be sure that you genuinely need these if you fork out for them.
Think about the size of the pot – it’s no good buying a cheap and cheerful slow cooker that’s on offer if it only feeds two people and you have a large family. Generally speaking, a 1.5-3L slow cooker will feed one or two people; a machine that’s 3-5L will serve three or four people; and anything between 5-6.5L will feed five or more people. You can get bigger ones too for six or more people.
Lakeland Slow Cooker is recommended by the BBC Good Food site. It’s lightweight with a nice ceramic pot that you can take to the table, and it feeds three to four people easily. There’s an auto-warm function for keeping food at serving temperature, and Lakeland will give you your money back if you aren’t happy.
So as you can see, there is a whole host of gadgets at your disposal – whether it works or not differs from person-to-person. Having tried a few of these myself, it can be hit and miss, but mostly a success.
Please feel free to comment below about gadgets that you feel are essential for your daily living.
Read: When Small Tasks become Daunting with HNPP