Protecting your joints is one important element in managing rheumatoid arthritis pain. Ignoring the pain or working through it can only lead to unnecessary stress. Doing so will not only contribute to more pain, but also raise your risk of having joint deformities.
RedRiver Health and Wellness Center and other rheumatoid arthritis assistance centers share a few techniques in protecting your joints:
Use joints wisely.
Positioning your body and joints can help you perform the task better and decrease stress. Kneeling and squatting, for instance, may put additional stress on knees and hips. When lifting heavy items, keep them at close to your chest and use your forearms for supporting the weight.
It is always a good idea to alternate repetitive or heavy activities with lighter ones. This allows you to take a break while lowering stress in certain joints. Pacing tasks, furthermore, will help you save energy by giving weak muscles some time to recover.
Choose larger or stronger joints.
As larger joints have more strength than small ones, use them whenever possible. When carrying a bag or a purse, for instance, you may want to use your shoulder instead of holding it with your hand. You can also use a backpack if your shoulder feels painful.
Spare fingers with too much work.
As much as possible, avoid prolonged gripping or pinching motions. It is best to use less force when holding equipment or tools. You may also want to use both hands when opening heavy doors or holding items.
Arrange your workspace.
If you usually sit while working, be sure to have enough support for back, feet, upper legs, and forearms. You can also consider an adjustable chair so you can raise it when getting up. When using a keyboard for long hours and a chair with no arms, wrist and forearm supports can help.
Apart from these tips, you can also use assistive devices and tools for making certain tasks easier. A cane can decrease stress on hip and knee joints, while a “reacher” is ideal for picking up certain items. You should also talk to your doctor about seeing a therapist for other recommendations.