3 panels that contain different items. First is a hand wearing a wrist compression wrap or sleeve, second is a hip wearing a SI belt, and third is a pair of hands using a jar opener.

My AxSpA Assisters

Last updated: January 2023

I have read some wonderful posts on here about items our community members use to help them cope with their AxSpA symptoms. They inspired me to share a trio of items I have introduced into my routines over the recent months as needed. So, here are a few items I have acquired to help me through my more challenging days.

SI belt

An SI belt came as a recommendation from an occupational therapist to assist, as needed, by removing pressure on my sacroiliac (SI) joints when they flare up.

The concept is similar to a compression sleeve in that the belt squeezes my midsection, and when I am experiencing heightened back pain it can really come in handy. The belt is essentially a piece of fabric a couple inches thick which wraps around my waist with three Velcro adjustments.

It is very simple to put on. First, I place the belt under my hip bones and there is a noticeable seam to line up with my spine. Then, I wrap the belt around me and I do up the first Velcro strap across the front to secure it around my body. Then, there are two elastic Velcro straps to adjust, one on each waist. I pull these forward simultaneously and they snug the belt to my body, reducing the tension felt on my SI joints.

The SI belt is particularly useful to accomplish household tasks when I'm experiencing a high-pain day. I will wear it to do the dishes, cook supper or other basic standing chores. However, it becomes less useful whenever I need to sit or bend over as it will start to slide out of position with too much trunk movement due to where it sits on my body.

To abide by local health regulations, I had to acquire this via a prosthetics company upon the recommendation of a healthcare professional. That was the biggest barrier as it only cost about $50.

Compression wrist wrap

I recently began experiencing pain in my left wrist. I was told this can be fairly common as there is a small pocket in the wrist that will fill will liquid when experiencing inflammation. Fortunately, it only affects me on rare and intermittent occasions, but when it does it can prevent me from doing very basic tasks such as opening jars, tying my shoes or typing on a keyboard.

So, I relied on my built-in support in my life, as my partner is currently pursuing her master’s in occupational therapy, for some advice. Following one of her class sessions in bracing, she suggested trying a compression wrap when my wrist becomes inflamed.

I was able to find one in a local pharmacy for about $15, and I was happily surprised to find it quite effective. It is just a piece of fabric with a hole for my thumb which then wraps around my wrist and fastens with Velcro. When experiencing wrist pain, I have started wearing it to bed and that seems to be a fantastic help. I have even worn it to work on a couple occasions and it helps me get through the day if I’m having trouble typing on the keyboard or other simple tasks.

Jar opener

The third item I will mention is a jar opener. I dislike this item because I think it is ridiculous, and I particularly dislike it because it works (and I can be stubborn).

It is merely a flat foam disk with a grippy rubber bottom, it looks like a miniature mousepad.

When inflammation strikes and pain flares up, I have a tendency to fumble things with my hands. Gripping and opening jars can be a struggle, and since being gifted this opener it works to a tee.

You know the feeling of struggling to open a jar, then you pass it to someone nearby and POP! It comes off. Well, that is exactly the feeling I get when using this small assist. With it, my struggle disappears.

I feel like a complete dork when I wear and use these things, and I very seldom wear them in public. Yet, feeling better and remaining useful far beats looking cool so I’m glad to have introduced these into my routines as needed.

How about you, what have you introduced into your life that helps you get by when needed?

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