Joint Protection: Occupational Therapy Joint Protection Principles

  • Respect pain

      Pain that lasts more than 2 hours indicates joint damage.
      Fear of pain results in inactivity and loss of motion and strength.
      Disregard for pain results in joint damage and pain.

  • Maintain muscle strength and joint range of motion

      Achieve full range of each joint while performing your daily activities.
      Perform specific exercises and range-of-motion activities.
      Loss of range of motion and strength = loss of function.

  • Wear splints and/or braces

      Protect and provide rest to very weak or unstable joints.
      During activity, provide external stability to an unstable joint.

  • Avoid positions of deformity

  • Avoid a tight grasp

    • Don't carry heavy handbags, pails, and bags by the handle.
      Hold everything no tighter than necessary.
      Release tight grasp frequently if you have to use it.
      Use built-up handles on writing utensils, pot handles, tools, etc.
      Use adaptive equipment such as jar openers.

  • Avoid pressure against the radial side of each finger (thumb side)

    • Don't rest your chin on the side of your fingers.
      Add levers to keys, handles, and knobs.
      Hold handles straight across the palm.

  • Avoid pressures against the backs of your fingers

    • This occurs when you push up from a chair using a closed fist or rest your chin on the backs of your fingers. Use your palms while holding your fingers straight.

  • Avoid strong and constant pressure against the pad of your thumb

    • The thumb is necessary for 40 percent of hand activities!
      Hold objects as lightly as possible.
      Use enlarged, built-up handles.
      Eliminate activities where possible.
      Type instead of writing with pen or pencil.

  • Avoid prolonged periods of holding the same position

    • Sit if the task takes more than 10 minutes.
      Stand up after sitting for 20-30 minutes.
      Reposition yourself often.

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For further information please contact the NY AgrAbility Project, Cornell Agricultural Health and Safety Program, 777 Warren Road, Ithaca New York 14850 or by phone 1-877-257-9777. The New York AgrAbility Project can not guarantee the effectiveness of any suggestions, solutions or recommendations. The New York AgrAbility Project is administered by Cornell University through funding provided under the United States Department of Agriculture CSREES project number 2002-41590-01372.

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