Additional Joint Protection Tips

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The Arthritis Foundation

In addition to the joint protection techniques that were discussed in regards to dressing, bathing, grooming, cooking, and shopping, there are many additional techniques that can be used throughout the day to help protect the joints. Below you will find some joint protection tips that relate to general daily living. It is important to remember to seek help from a trained physician or a local occupational therapist to learn about additional joint protection techniques that may be able to help you to protect your joints while living your unique lifestyle (i.e. joint protection tips for sewing, golfing, dancing, etc.)

1) Avoid joint deforming positions at all times. Joints typically become deformed in bent positions, so be aware of this and try to keep your joints straight when they do not need to be bent. For example, avoid leaning on your hands with bent fingers. With time, this causes deformities in the hands.

 

 

 

 

2) Another common joint deformity seen in persons with rheumatoid arthritis is known as a lateral (or ulnar) drift deformity. As shown in this picture taken from Duquesene University's web site (1993-1995), this deformity is characterized by the movement of the fingers towards the little finger. One way to help avoid developing this deformity is to substitute typing for writing when every possible. Writing puts pressure on the fingers and encourages them to move towards the little finger. Efforts should be taken to discourage this as much as possible in the hopes of preventing or at least delaying this deformity. It is important to remember that while typing, keep the back straight and the hips and knees bent to a 90 degree angle. The elbows should be placed at the sides of the body with the forearms parallel to the floor. Make sure that your shoulders, arms, and hands are relaxed because too much tension will use extra energy.

3) Listen to and respect the signs of pain. Pain is an indicator of joint destruction, and therefore activities should be stopped immediately when a person begins to feel pain. Persons with rheumatoid arthritis should never follow the philosophy, "no pain, no gain". Pain indicates joint destruction and will therefore never result in "gain" for a person with rheumatoid arthritis.

4) When rising to stand, place the palms of your hands on the arm rests of the chair (always try to sit in chairs with armrests if possible as they are easier to get out of), bring the feet underneath the body, lean forward, push off the arm rests with the palms of the hands, and stand up. Rising to stand in this manner uses each joint to its best advantage and allows you to get up using as little energy as possible.

 

5) Always avoid holding objects with a small, tight grasp. This causes fluid to build up in the joints, which increases the inflammation in that joint and then causes destruction. To avoid this, use two hands to carry objects, lighten the load that your carrying, or build up the handle on the objects (with a towel or foam) to help distribute the weight of the object across many joints.

6) Bend your wrist back whenever you attempt to pick up objects. This allows the muscles in your hands to generate the most force when trying to grasp those objects.

 

 

 

7) Use larger and stronger joints to accomplish a task whenever possible. For example, push a drawer closed with your hips instead of your hands.

8) As mentioned with energy conservation, use assistive devices whenever possible. By assisting in the completion of a task, these devices help to protect the joints.

9) Eliminate all unnecessary bending and reaching during tasks. For example, all frequently used items should be stored between your waist and your shoulders so that they can be easily retrieved.

10) Push or pull all objects instead of carrying them.


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