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Joint Protection Principles of Occupational Therapy

Use your joints sensibly, and with care.  Remember, arthritis is something you have a lot of control over how it progresses.  With Arthritis, working through the pain is usually not the best approach, and can cause stress and damage to your joints.  This means RETHINKing about your activities or your “occupations”.  You are your best friend to help yourself do but hurt less. 

Below is some very helpful information to give you the knowledge and the way you should look at your activities to help yourself prevent too much pain or damage to your joints.  It is a “Mindset”.  It is learning to think before doing, BUT still doing and living.  Joint protection principles help you prevent pain.

  Learn to respect your arthritis pain...  
  If you can learn which activity stresses a joint, then you can avoid repeating it.  Pain that lasts more than an hour, and definitely more than two hours usually indicates the activity stressed your joints.  Try and think of ways to change or modify that action.  There is a difference between general discomfort of arthritis and the pain from overusing a joint.  
  Use larger or strongest joint available for the job...  
  Think about how to do a job or activity.  Favor the larger joints.  Save the smaller and thus weaker joints for the jobs they can handle. Example:  instead of carry a heavy book or tray with your hands only, carry it with elbow, and pull it towards your chest.  
  Move your joints through a pain free range of motion...  

Every day move your joints in a range of motion that is as pain free as possible.  This will help maintain mobility.  But don’t overdo it.  Gentle movements, as sudden jerking or bouncing can stress joints.

  Be careful how you use your hands...  
  Your therapist will train and educate you on how to avoid stressful positions or methods.  This includes:
  • Avoid making tight fists. Use large handles or built up handles on tools or instruments.
Avoid activities or positions that push your fingers toward your little finger.  Example:  don’t pick up a cup or gallon of milk with your hand – instead use both hands and grasp the container on the sides to hold or pour.

Owners Karla and
David Gonzales

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