Avoiding Stress and Strain on Joints
You've read about how joint protection principles, proper body mechanics, assistive devices, and pain management are all necessary for you to be able to reduce stress and strain on your joints. Keep the following tips in mind as well.
Supports and braces can add stability to joints. A stable joint is less likely to become damaged or injured. You should not continue to walk on an unstable, unsupported joint. Instability can cause injury or lead to joint damage.
Your joints are more easily strained if they are already swollen, warm, inflamed, and painful. Be extra cautious with your joints when they are already hurting. Take steps to treat the symptoms and reduce your activity level until symptoms are better controlled.
Wait twenty-four hours to resume normal activities after receiving a joint injection, otherwise you risk straining the joint involved. Don't use joint injections to mask pain in an effort to accelerate activity. There is a risk of joint damage by using joint injections for that reason.
Don't ever increase your pain medications beyond their maximum daily allowable dose. There is a limit on how much pain medication you can safely take. If you are unsure, ask your doctor.
When doing range-of-motion exercises, active range of motion means you need no assistance. You can do passive range of motion also, where you assist yourself (e.g., one of your arms helps to lift the other) or another person assists you. Either way, you're putting your joints through their full range of motion, which is your daily goal.
If you feel you have strained a joint, use R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to help you recover. Inability to bear weight on your foot, ankle, or leg indicates you may have a severe strain. Seek medical attention or medical advice.
Repetitive motion can cause stress and injury to muscles, joints, and tendons. Remember to vary your position as much as possible. To help reduce stress from repetitive motion, dangle your arms and then put your hands behind your head and arch your back. While standing, with your hands on your hips, lean backwards to arch your back.
Remember to create a workstation or work environment that emphasizes ergonomics. If you spend much of your day at work or working at home, you must be sure that your setup is not contributing to joint pain and joint damage.
Pain, disease, and joint damage are the most frequent causes of limited range of motion. To preserve your range of motion you need to control pain, treat the disease, and reduce the risk of joint damage. Rest when you need to, but don't become sedentary. Mobility helps decrease joint stiffness. Be as active as possible, but don't overdo to the point of straining your joints; find the balance.
Make adjustments as necessary to improve joint health. Some adjustments may be minor and others may be major. You don't want to have to stop working or give up activities. To preserve your ability to work and to be active, you must preserve your joints. Pay close attention to how your joints feel and to any changes you begin to feel in your joints. Don't ignore subtle changes — let your doctor decide if it's anything that requires medical attention.
Joint health directly correlates with mobility and function. Declining joint health pushes you toward disability. It is easier to protect your joints and maintain good function than to lose function and have to try to regain it.