Occupational Therapy Helps Manage Arthritis

July 05, 2015
Occupational Therapy Helps Manage Arthritis

5 Tips from Occupational Therapy to Help Manage Your Arthritis

July is Arthritis Awareness Month and occupational therapy can help preserve your joints and manage your pain.  How can occupational therapists help? Occupational therapists can teach you how to reduce strain on your joints during daily activities. They can show you how to modify your home and workplace environments to reduce motions that might aggravate arthritis. Occupational therapists might also provide splints for your hands or wrists, and might recommend assistive devices to aid in driving, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and other tasks.  In addition to consulting with occupational therapy, there are things you can do to preserve your joints and manage your pain:

Download an App

If you are having difficulty keeping tabs on pain levels, daily activities, nutrition intake, mood, medications and more, look for a app to help. Apps are available for just about everything and can help you to set goals, stay up-to-date in many areas of life that arthritis can affect, and get an idea of how certain activities and undertakings affect how you feel. Many apps are free and can be downloaded on iPhones, iPads or Androids.

Track Your Zzzs

While losing out on sleep isn't likely to cause an arthritis flare up, it can raise your stress levels, deplete concentration abilities and affect your mood, all of which can exacerbate your pain. People with arthritis pain often don't enough sleep and have difficulty napping enough, or taking time to rest and relax. Wearable devices like the Jawbone UP wristband can help you understand how you sleep and move during the night. Other apps allows users to get in-depth details on sleep activity, offering insights on whether you're logging enough snooze time, and how restful it is.

Be Consistent with Activity and Meds

Many people with arthritis wait until they are in pain to take their pain medications and when a movement or activity hurts, they think that it's their signal to stop altogether. When this happens, people end up engaging in far less activity and exercise than they think they have. To make sure you're activity level is at the level it needs to be to keep you healthy, use the pain relief medication your doctor recommends on the schedule prescribed and if a movement or activity results in pain, consult with an occupational therapist on how to modify the task to safely work through the pain.

Keep a Journal

Life is busy and it isn't always easy to keep track of the factors that contribute to arthritis pain. That's where journaling can help - especially when it comes to tracking which activities and what times of day correspond to pain flare-ups. Write down the time of day and how much time you spent doing exercise, activities and how you feel after. Use the scale of 0 to 10 to rate your pain. Track which medications and pain-relief options work best for you, such as hot or cold compress, time in a hot tub or sauna, or prayer and meditation.

Use What You've Got

Not tech-savvy? Don't worry. Simple everyday items often work just as well, if not better, then technical gadgets. Use your cell phone or wristwatch to help prompt you to take medication or move around.  One woman sets her alarm on her phone to go off every half hour as a cue to do something active, even if only for two or three minutes at a time. Don't have exercise equipment? No problem. Use soup cans as weights and grab a towel at opposite ends for resistance when stretching to engage your muscles and joints, and ease some of the pain caused by arthritis.  Be creative in using what you have to help you accomplish your goals.

Therapy Achievements' therapists have over 20 years of experience and advanced training in treatment of balance and movement disorders. We have physical, occupational and speech therapy services and would welcome the opportunity to help you optimize your fitness program and optimize how you with arthritis.

Therapy Achievements is a Rehabilitation Center that provides Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy for Balance and Movement, Speech and Swallowing, Swelling from Lymphedema and Edema, Driving Rehabilitation and Functional Living Skills for visual and cognitive re-training.  We help people with Brain Injury, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Lymphedema, Head and Neck Cancer, Vertigo and Dizziness, and other disorders that interfere with mobility and function.  We offer VitalStim Technology, Saebo Technology, LSVT LOUD Treatment, LSVT BIG Treatment, and Neuro-Developmental Treatment.