With an estimated 31 million Americans suffering from osteoarthritis, it’s no surprise Ortho Rhode Island’s recent Living with Arthritis Pain seminar at the Warwick Library was well-attended. Casey Ashby, OT, an Ortho Rhode Island Occupational Therapist shared her expertise, offered tips to reduce pain and taught new strategies for accomplishing activities of daily living.
As a degenerative disease in which symptoms come on slowly, arthritis can be very frustrating. Patients gradually lose their ability to do simple things, such as button a shirt, or continue favorite pastimes such as knitting. Attendees left excited to try new strategies and hopeful about resuming favorite activities.
Casey explained the key in managing arthritis is not to ignore the pain, and though it may seem counterintuitive, staying active helps.
For people who suffer from arthritis in their arms, shoulders or hands, coping strategies include:
- Use proper posture. For example, carrying a laundry basket with arms out straight puts a great deal of pressure on the shoulders. Reduce force by bringing your arms closer in to your body.
- Minimize resisted gripping. For example, use pens with a wider circumference to reduce the load on painful joints.
- Use prefabricated splints or custom orthotics to achieve stability.
For people who suffer from arthritis in their lower body, coping strategies include:
- Wear supportive foot wear.
- Use a shorter stride to reduce load on painful joints.
- Warm up before exercise by stretching key muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, IT bands), and end with a cool down and more stretching.
- Strengthen your core and the muscles surrounding your hips, knees, feet and ankles to improve body alignment and stability.
Lastly, rely on the pros. Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists are masters of body mechanics and creative professionals who can help you adapt to most situations.