Were you recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis? Here at LB Hand Therapy, we want you to know there are answers and options available to you. Today we’re going to briefly discuss the three main areas of managing rheumatoid arthritis (RA): Joint protection/energy conservation, splinting, and exercise.
Joint Protection & Energy Conservation
Joint protection and energy conservation are two important techniques to employ if you have rheumatoid arthritis. These concepts can also apply to any other form of arthritis, or even fibromyalgia.
Joint protection is the concept of using your joints in their most stable positions. Learning these positions and using proper body mechanics can help protect and preserve your joints. You may need splints or braces to keep your joints in their best possible positions.
Energy conservation is the concept of conserving energy throughout the day by spacing out tasks and taking breaks. Don’t attempt to do all of your physically-demanding work in a single day because you will feel the effects of it the next day. Spacing things out over the week will help you not wear down. Create a schedule for your week so you can get a big picture of what you plan to accomplish each day. For more information on joint protection/energy conservation for rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, check out our video.
If your joints deteriorate, it is important to stabilize them. Using joints in incorrect positions and postures further deteriorates the joint. Stabilizing the joint can help you use it appropriately and prevent further deterioration. We typically stabilize joints using splints. There are many splinting options out there and some work better for certain individuals. Your therapist can help you try out different splints and together you can decide which splints work best for you. Contact us today if you would like to schedule a splint consultation.
Correct exercise for your joints is another important part of managing rheumatoid arthritis. Keeping your large joints strong and building those muscles will help stabilize the joints. Keeping smaller joints lubricated with synovial fluid will also help prevent deterioration. When exercising potentially inflamed joints, you want to go slow and be careful not to over-do it. Your therapist can discuss how to begin an exercise program to manage your RA. In addition to exercise, diet also plays a role in treating your RA. Read more from our guest blogger, Courtney Crawford, Certified Nutrition Specialist. She wrote an informative blog on How to Create an Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
Take Home Points
- Protect Your Joints with proper body mechanics and braces when necessary.
- Manage Your Time to conserve your energy and prevent burnout.
- Keep Moving: Exercise to keep your joints moving and strong.
Were you recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis? Are you unsure of what to do next or where to start with treatment? At LB Hand Therapy, your therapist can help you develop an individualized care plan to address any functional limitations you may have. If you are interested in becoming a patient, please visit our Where to Begin page.