Guest Author - Marji Hajic
The American Society of Hand Therapists provides tips for relieving joint stress on the hands while performing daily activities. Those who have pain while typing on the computer may also find these tips helpful. Here are some excerpts from their article "Getting the Upper Hand with Arthritis: Hand Care Tips"
According to the Arthritis Foundation, 46 million Americans live with arthritis or chronic joint symptoms. Arthritis symptoms limit everyday activities such as dressing, bathing, and cooking for more than 7 million Americans. Everyday activities, such as preparing a meal, woodworking, carrying grocery bags, or using your computer, can damage your joints over time. Joint protection techniques can help reduce pain, stress, and inflammation of your joints.
Give your Hands a Break
If you have pain during an activity, stop the activity. Pain is one of the best ways your body has of letting you know that you are causing tissue damage. So listen to and respect your pain.
Protect the small joints of your hands and avoid carrying several plastic grocery bags at once to save time. Use paper bags, carry them one at a time, and hold them at the bottom instead of using the handles.
If writing is painful, try using a thick, rubber grip pen with a gel tip or roller ball to decrease the amount of pressure used.
Remember to stretch and take rest breaks every 15 minutes during repetitive or prolonged activities such as needlework, painting, sewing, knitting and crocheting, hammering, and filing.
Figure out which activities aggravate your symptoms and avoid or modify them – don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
Use pump shampoos, conditioners, and toothpaste – use the palm of your hand to pump instead of squeezing the container.
Use enlarged grips on every day equipment or tools to reduce strain on your joints, examples include potato peelers, gardening tools, tooth brushes, hair brushes, or build up the handle with foam.
Keep scissors and knives sharp to minimize your own effort.
Always use two hands when lifting heavy objects. A gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds and lifting it with only your fingertips places excessive stress on your joints.