Arthritis and joint protection

Join protection describes techniques to reduce stress and pain in your joints, helping to preserve them for longer. Joint protection doesn’t mean you should stop using your joints, just that you should use them in the best way to protect them and keep them mobile.

 

There are a couple of rules to follow to help:

  • Take notice of any pain you feel
  • Spread the load over several joints and use larger stronger joints
  • Don’t grip things too tightly or for too long
  • Avoid pushing your joints into awkward positions
  • Use labour saving gadgets where possible

 

Take notice of your pain 

It is important to take notice of pain and use it as a warning sign. Pushing yourself to complete a task can cause more pain the next day. Try and become familiar with when and where you experience the pain as this will provide you with the tools to help manage it: 

  • Once you know your pain threshold, take regular breaks, for example, if you get pain after doing something for five minutes, try to take a break after three minutes.
  • Pace yourself, this allows you to keep doing activities you enjoy, rather than having to give them up.
  • Work out your pain threshold. How long can you do an activity before you feel pain?
  • Take regular breaks, aim to take them before experiencing pain and discomfort

 

Spread the load
Spreading the load will help reduce pressure on the smaller fragile joints and instead will utilise the larger joints and muscles which can withstand a greater workload.

Try to:

  • Slide heavy objects on kitchen work surfaces
  • Use your palms instead of your fingers to lift or push
  • Carry a backpack instead of holding a purse in your hand
  • Use two hands to hold objects
  • Keep as much of your hand as possible in contact with the object
  • Carry objects by supporting them using larger and stronger joints.

It is important to use these techniques not just when you are in pain, but all of the time. 

 

Reduce that grip

Joints and muscles do not like to be held in the same position for too long. They become stiff and work less effectively leading to pain and further damage. Try using different techniques to reduce the amount you spend tightly gripping objects today:

  • Release your grip every 10-15 minutes.
  • Try padding out items such as pens, toothbrushes or cutlery using foam tubing or thicker handled products. Click here to see our easy grip cutlery set.
  • Rest books on a table, book rest or large pillow - Click here to view our book seat.
  • Use a chopping board with spikes to secure vegetables.
  • Use a tea towel or non-slip matting to stop mixing bowls slipping - Click here to view our infinity mat. 
  • Use levers on taps and key turners on keys - Click here to view our tap turners and click here to view one of our key turners.
  • Avoid awkward positions
  • Having some awareness of how you use your joints and in what position they are in can be helpful in avoiding excess strain.

Use a grip that keeps the wrists straight and the fingers in line with the wrist as much as possible. This is the optimum position for the hand to rest in. However, changing the position of your hand when completing activities can feel strange, once you practice this a couple of times, it will feel much more natural.

Make sure work surfaces are at the right height for you so you do not have to stoop or stretch when you use them.

Ensure you are sitting in a chair which is an appropriate size for you, e.g. if it is too low this will put strain on your knees and hips. If you are at a desk and your chair is low this could put further strain on your shoulders and wrists.

When opening new or tight jars consider using a gripping aid and direct the force through the palm of your hand rather than just through the fingers. Click here to view our easy twist jar opener or click here to view our anti slip jar opener. 

Avoid staying in one position all the time. Change your position more regularly or joints will get stiff. For example, if you are in the car or sitting at your desk for a long period of time, ensure to get up and stretch.

 

References
https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/hand-and-wrist-pain/
http://sussexmskpartnershipcentral.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Looking-after-your-joints.pdf
https://www.esht.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/0502.pdf

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