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Occupational Therapy - Making Life Easier

Important Part of the Treatment Plan for Some People With Arthritis


Updated May 20, 2014

Daily living activities can be greatly affected by chronic arthritis. The limitations caused by the disease make performing even routine tasks more difficult.

An occupational therapist is an integral part of the team working to combat the effects of arthritis. The occupational therapist is a trained and licensed health care professional who can make a complete evaluation of the impact of the disease on the activities of the patient at home and in work situations. The therapist also considers hobbies and recreational activities when making their assessment.

Occupational Therapy Assessment

The therapist takes a history from the patient by conducting a thorough interview. Questions are asked about:

The therapist also conducts a physical examination which extensively concentrates on range-of-motion and the observation of deformities which might hinder performance. The occupational therapist assesses the need for splints or supports which might benefit the patient. The therapist can help design specific splints and assistive devices.

Overcoming Limitations

It is the job of the occupational therapist to innovate plans to overcome the imposed limitations. By teaching joint protection techniques, the therapist can help the patient:

  • reduce joint strain
  • conserve energy
  • prevent further joint damage

Listen to Your Pain

Pain can interfere with daily living. Pain is the signal that you are overdoing. It is important to manage pain and minimize its negative impact. Do you take actions which control your pain or do some of your habits and routines actually increase your pain level?

Joint Protection Principles

Some principles of joint rest and protection are:

  • Conserve energy by balancing work with rest
  • Use good body mechanics
  • Sit rather than stand when working
  • Use larger joints when possible
  • When lifting, use two hands rather than one
  • Slide objects instead of lifting
  • Avoid tight grip or twisting motion of hands
  • Use assistive devices for better mechanical advantage
  • Do You Use Joint Protection Techniques?

Occupational therapy has developed numerous ways to make the activities of daily living easier but the full participation of the patient is required to make it practicable.


The Duke University Medical Center Book Of Arthritis, David S. Pisetsky, M.D.

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