Energy Conservation and Joint Protection

Energy conservation and joint protection techniques are suggested for persons with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or any other joint-compromising disorder.


  • Respect PAIN as a signal to STOP the activity.
  • Make a SCHEDULE of daily activities. Write down when PAIN and FATIGUE occur and schedule in REST BREAKS as needed.
  • Avoid POSITIONS OF DEFORMITY and FORCES in their direction. Finger motions should be in the direction of the thumb whenever possible. When getting up from a chair or holding a magazine, use the palms of the hands rather than the knuckles.
  • Use the LARGEST and STRONGEST joints available for a job. Save weaker joints for the specific jobs that only they can handle. For example, carry bags on the shoulder instead of at the elbow, wrist, or fingers.
  • Avoid staying in ONE POSITION for a LONG PERIOD OF TIME. Don’t give your joints the chance to become stiff. When writing or doing handwork, release your grip every 10 to 15 minutes. On long car trips, get out of the car, stretch and move around at least every hour. While watching television get up and move around every 30 minutes.
  • Use a CART to carry heavy items. If no cart is available, it is better to take several trips to get a job done than to overload and take one trip.
  • SLIDE or PUSH items whenever possible.
  • Avoid making a TIGHT FIST or PINCHING objects tightly. Instead, use a grasp that places your KNUCKLES PARALLEL to the handle of the tool or utensil being used.
  • DO NOT start an activity that cannot be STOPPED IMMEDIATELY if pain or fatigue should occur.

A portion of the information is shared from: Mayo Clinic (February, 2004). Arthritis: Protect your joints to prevent pain.

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.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More