Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis continued – 6th rule for protecting your joints
This article is the eight in this series. There are 6 rules to protect your joints, and this article will cover the last rule. Please read the previous articles to learn about the five other rules.
6. Avoid ‘positions of deformity.’
Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can cause various deformities in your finger joints (please refer to the second article in the series).
Avoiding forces that put joints in directions of deformity is very important in reducing the chance of pain.
• Try to become aware of how you use the painful joints.
• Avoid fingers turning toward little finger side
•Avoid a tight and prolonged grip or pinch
• Avoid flexion (bending) and rotation (turning) of the wrist during activities such as stirring.
• Use stable joint positions – keep your thumb and index in an ‘O’ position and wrist straight – as shown in the picture.
• Holding a book with your palms while reading instead of pinching it with your thumb and index finger
Joint deformities which are prone (likely) to develop in rheumatoid arthritis can be lessened, and in many instances prevented, by using appropriate splints (external supports) during the different stages of the disease. Splints can help to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, protect a joint, prevent or correct deformity, or improve function.
It is understandable to feel overwhelmed by all that you have to do to protect your joints if you have RA. Here are 4 P’s to make remembering ‘how to protect the joints in your hands’ easier:
• Problem solve: If a task causes you pain or discomfort, think about how you can do it differently.
• Plan: Plan the things you need to do for that day/week and try to space out the more demanding tasks.
• Prioritise: Decide whether something needs to be done today; done at all; or can be done partly or wholly by someone else.
• Pace yourself: Break tasks up and spread them out throughout the day or week with regular short breaks in-between. Change positions regularly.
I hope the articles in this series have been of help to you. If you have any concerns regarding your joints, please consult your doctor or a hand therapist. Protect your hands!
Hope this series on Rheumatoid Arthritis has helped you in managing pain, improve your hand function and has kept you doing the hobbies and tasks that you love.
Let me know by leaving a comment.