By Nicole Torres, Occupational Therapist
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a form of arthritis that can be found in the joints of the hand and wrist due to joint degeneration and cartilage break down. The loss of cushion in the small joints of the hand can lead to pain, decreased range of motion, and decreased functional use of the hands.
Joint protection strategies and activity modifications can help to protect and reduce the stress placed on the joints of the hand during daily activities.
A few joint protection techniques include:
-Using larger and stronger joints when possible
-Use joints like the elbow when carrying groceries or bags
-Use two hands instead of one when lifting or carrying to distribute weight
-Modify current tools
-Use built up handles to decrease the amount of force and grip required
-Use a jar or bottle opener when available
-Balance rest and activity
-Stop activities before the point of pain
-Alternate between heavy and light activities
In addition to these joint protection strategies and activity modifications, an occupational therapist can work with you to help improve your joint mechanics and increase functional use of your hands.
Source: Beasley, J. (2012). (Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Hand Therapy; 25: 163-72.