If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, here are some practical lifestyle changes you can make to help protect vulnerable joints from inflammation and damage.
Arthritis NZ describes joint protection as using your body in different ways to reduce the amount of stress on sore joints, reduce pain and inflammation, and minimise and protect joints from deformity.
If you feel pain in a joint during an activity then STOP and rest until the pain goes away, or modify the task so that it is less stressful on your joints. If the pain lasts for two hours after the activity, then you have done too much.
Take frequent rest periods and plan your day to incorporate rests after any activity. Alternate heavy and light activities such as light dusting followed by hanging out the washing.
Physical activity is absolutely essential to maintaining strong muscles and joints. The ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy applies - if you stop using a joint or muscle, it will deteriorate. So it’s best to keep it moving within sensible limits rather than avoiding use.
Don’t stay in one position for too long. If you are sitting for long periods then stand up and change your position every 20-30 minutes. If you have been writing, or holding something small like a needle and thread, stretch your fingers out every 10 minutes.
There are many devices available to assist you with joint protection, work simplification and energy conservation. Contact a registered Occupational Therapist or arthritis educator for advice.