The first thing to do is to become more aware of how you use the joints that ache, both at home and at work. Try, for example, watching your actions while you make a hot drink:
- What’s happening to your fingers while you’re turning the tap? Are they being pushed towards your little finger?
- What happens to your thumbs as you take the lid off the coffee jar? Is there pressure or aching at the base of your thumb?
- What’s happening to your wrist and fingers as you lift the kettle? Can you feel any aching or pulling at these joints?
Can you think of another way of doing these things? You might already have tried picking up the kettle with two hands when your hands are painful, but it’s important to do this all the time, not just when your hands are hurting. This is an example of joint protection.
Joint protection doesn’t mean you should stop using your joints, just that you should use them differently. Try the following techniques to protect your joints:
- Take notice of any pain you feel – it can serve as a warning.
- Spread the weight over several joints when carrying something.
- Reduce the effort you have to put in – labour-saving gadgets can be a great help.
- Avoid gripping things tightly.
- Avoid positions that push your joints towards deformity.
- Use your joints in more stable positions.
- Stop to think if you could do something differently next time if it hurts you.
These techniques are explained in detail in the sections that follow, with some examples of how you can put them into practice. Research has shown that joint protection methods really do help to reduce pain and make everyday activities easier. People have also reported less stiffness in the morning and fewer flare-ups when they use these techniques regularly.
What should I do when I'm in pain?
Take notice of pain – if you’re still having pain an hour after an activity, try taking more short breaks next time. Wearing splints may help to ease strain or pain in your joints. Read more
How can I use stronger joints or spread the load?
When carrying objects, think about using stronger joints or spreading the load over several joints to avoid causing pain and pushing joints towards deformity. Read more
How can I use less effort to do things?
Think about using aids and gadgets, reducing the weight and using the 'shift, not lift' principle to use less effort when doing activities. Read more
How can I avoid gripping things tightly?
Try using padding on pens and other objects so you don't have to grip so tightly, which can put strain on your hands. Hand exercises can also help you improve your grip. Read more
How can I use more stable joint positions?
Using your joints in more stable positions could mean adjusting your grip or your position if working at a table or bench, or paying careful attention to your lifting technique. Read more