I have also equipped myself with a grabstick. This is a key component of my strategy for coping with life and helps out with many tasks, you just won't believe how much you can do with such a simple aid. Besides using it to pick up stuff I also use it to help me load the washing machine and also to unload it and hang it up. It picks up the empty dog's bowl for me to fill, helps me get stuff out of the refrigerator and the dish washer. It even helps me to put the dog out! So go get one, they should not cost a great deal.

Other gadgets include a Sock Dresser and a long handled shoe horn. Both can take the pain out of getting dressed..

What about a walking stick? I know, it grates but read on. In my own case I found that walking around outside I felt uncomfortable and unstable, I had previously fallen down the stairs in my cottage, and was terrified of the same thing happening outside of the house.

A friend of mine ran an antiques shop and he had a few sticks in stock, nothing expensive (between £10 and £20), he let me try several until I found one I felt comfortable with. Then I checked that out with my Physio who gave me a rubber stopper for the end of it, very important that - seriously - if you're going to lean on the damn thing the last thing you want is for it to slip on a shiny surface. The end result looks a great deal better than the ones they give you in hospital and you can ensure that it looks suits you. It gives a person in pain a great deal more confidence when they are out and about.

One word of warning though. Don't walk with it as if you have a limp, most of us don't, otherwise you will develop one for sure and that limp will alter the muscle structure in your back again. Not recommended.

Whilst we are talking on walking, I also use Orthotics in my shoes, I find that they make me more aware of where my feet are and help me keep a good posture, something which I feel is very important for Arachnoiditis sufferers. I got mine through one of the TV shopping channels, I think they cost me $25.

Remember that good posture is as much a factor in avoiding scoliotic changes in your spine as anything else. So simply by sitting and walking with your spine in a good position you can avoid pain.

Pain Management. I strongly urge you to explore them all in order to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can. There are also some support groups and notice board sites such as Cofwa and the New MSN ARAC site, these are great to explore but don't get tied up with symptom swapping you could end up with far more than you went in with!

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