Accepting arthritis, living within limits

Accepting arthritis, living within limits

Sarah Dillingham - CEO & Founder
3 minute read

One of the biggest frustrations about living with joint pain is the unexpected physical limitations it brings. 

Whether it’s fumbling with buttons or struggling to lift a heavy pan, everything takes just that little bit longer, if it doesn’t seem downright impossible.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, 4 out of 5 arthritis patients experience challenges in their ability to function physically and have difficulties participating in activities of daily living.

This includes tasks like bathing and dressing, vacuuming, doing yard work, running errands and shopping. Many people have to give up their cherished hobbies and other things they love to do. 

Image of 5 stick men, 4 are blue, 1 is grey. It says 'four out of five arthritis patients experience physical limitations' from Arthritis Foundation How it Hurts report 2021

That’s a tough thing to live with. 

It’s not only the frustration of not being able to do a task you need to do. It’s the loss of independence, the increased time it takes to get things done, and the stress attached to that. 

When people give up hobbies, they are giving up things that bring them joy.

That’s why my co-founder Trevor and I started Grace & Able. 

Our mission is to empower you to keep doing the things that you love. 

We do this by designing and making great orthopedic braces, with a focus on support, comfort, and style. 

As an arthritis patient myself, I understand how hard it is to lose the ability to do the things that you once took for granted.

In my case, my limitations stem from having an index finger that no longer bends, a weak wrist with eroded bone, and 'snap, crackle, and pop' knees with a tendency to swell up like footballs. 

It affects every aspect of my life, from the clothes I wear (no buttons) to the food I cook (no heavy pans) through to where I go on holiday (no wilderness camping, or ambitious mountain hikes).

The strange thing about adapting to living with arthritis is that things that may seem small and insignificant to an outsider - like struggling to change bedsheets - feel overwhelming to me.

Over time I’ve found many ways to adapt. I've accumulated a whole selection of adaptive products, gadgets and mobility aids, and replaced old hobbies with new ones. It took a long while because it change is hard.

While I would rather not have made these adaptations, I appreciate that they opened up many possibilities for me.

I am able to live enough of a normal life that I can start an orthopedic brace company and make something better.

I can’t promise that orthopedic braces are any kind of magic fix.

I do know though, that protecting joints and keeping them stable helps us to do the things that we love for longer.

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Source: How it Hurts Report, Arthritis Foundation, 2021

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