Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nation’s leading cause of disability among American’s over the age of 15. Although this is a staggering statistic, there are some things that can be done to help people with this disease feel more comfortable. Joint protection techniques work best for persons with rheumatoid arthritis but all can benefit from these simple measures to prevent additional stress on your joints.
- Respect Pain: when you have pain in your joints at best it is important to reduce your activity level and allow inflammatory process to subside.
- Use the Strongest Joints Available for the Job: Using stronger larger joints for tasks will help prevent pain in smaller affected joints. A simple application is carrying a purse over your shoulder instead of holding it with a hook grasp.
- Avoid Staying In One Position For Long Periods of Time: when you are in a long position for a long time your muscles become fatigued, once this happens the muscles can no longer hold the joint in a stable position and the load transfers to the joint and its capsule. Changing position and taking breaks along with range of motion exercises can help to prevent muscle fatigue and protect the joint capsule.
- Balance Rest and Activity: It is important to have fine balance between times of activity and the subsequent rest periods needed to allow the body to recuperate.
- Maintain Muscle Strength and Joint Range of Motion: Balanced strength around an unstable joint can help reduce the pain and further damage to that joint. Maintaining range of motion is so important because once a joint has reduced motion the surrounding joints, especially distal ones, have to make up for it.
- Avoid Positions of Deformity: Avoiding forces that put joints in directions of deformity is very important in reducing the chance of pain. Holding a book with your palms while reading instead of pinching it with your thumb and index finger is an example of this.
These are just a few examples of what can be done to help reduce deformity and pain associated with arthritis. If you are affected with arthritis it is important to be seen by a health care professional regularly to monitor the progression of this potentially debilitating disease