If you are feeling some added aches and pains as the season transitions into fall and winter you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from 2013–2015, “An estimated 54.4 million US adults (22.7%) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.”1 Common triggers of joint pain include overdoing an activity, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain.2 Between wrapping up our outdoor activities and keeping up with the weather changes of a Minnesota fall, it’s hard to avoid these challenges.
Joint pain impacts many aspects of life in our society: 1 in 25 working-age adults aged 18 to 64 years face work limitations they attribute to arthritis. Around 44% of adults had arthritis-attributable activity limitations in 2013–2015. Arthritis even has been correlated with 2.5 times higher risk of falls for adults when compared with those without arthritis.1
When we experience pain with activity, we tend to avoid it. You may have heard the saying “Use it or lose it.” Stopping activities all together lead to a downward spiral of decreasing function. While you may have to modify your activities with arthritic pain, discontinuing them all together is usually not a good option for your body or spirit.
You can minimize your symptoms by protecting your joints. These methods include using improved body mechanics and posture, use of supportive devices, use of gadgets to decrease the load on joints, and improving strength and stability around the painful joints.
You can decrease stress on your joints when you sit with good posture while you work on your iPad or computer. It may include supporting your spine better in a chair, adjusting or changing your keyboard or mouse, or adjusting the surface you sit your devices on. Similarly adjusting your work heights and use of equipment at work or at home (like your kitchen), you can dramatically reduce repetitive stress. Learning proper lifting and carrying mechanics can keep your spine, knees, shoulders, elbows, and hands a lot happier.
Supportive devices may include the use of a cane or walker or a brace for your knee or ankles. Even orthotics can support your feet for walking or a sport. Upper extremities are often helped by support for the fingers and wrists so that things like cooking, lifting and other activities of daily living don’t stress them.
There are many gadgets that help take the stress off joints. Things like jar openers and built up tools so fingers do not have to close so far help hands, elbows, and shoulders. Use of equipment on wheels, use of a ramp or dolly can reduce stress to the spine and legs.
Another way to reduce stress to your joints is to include regular exercise in your weekly routines. Joints receive nutrition through movement so non-stressful ways of moving joints through motion can be a great pain reliever and preventer. Also having good muscle strength around an arthritic joint has been shown to decrease the joint load significantly. The trick is finding the appropriate kind and intensity of activity so that you don’t trigger a flare.
A physical or occupational therapist can be very helpful in identifying which of these many options you may benefit from. They can develop a custom exercise program specifically directed at both protecting your joints and also building up the strength and stability around them so that the joints are less stressed with your other activity. Contact us today to schedule your appointment. Visit our website to learn more!
Work smarter, not harder
Alana Howey, PT, MS, OCS
Live Your LifeTM
Bringing Physical Therapy & Wellness to You!
Alana Howey, PT, MS, OCS graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN in 1985 with a B.A. biology degree. She went on to study at Texas Woman’s University and graduated with a MS in physical therapy in 1987. She has over 25 years of practice in Minnesota. The bulk of her career she has been practicing in outpatient orthopedic physical therapy, treating a wide range of client ages and challenges. She developed a specialty in treating temporomandibular dysfunction, headaches and cervical dysfunction. She also applies a more holistic approach to rebalancing the entire body system with postural restoration for complex, multi-joint challenges. She received a board certification as a clinical specialist in orthopedics in 1999 and was recertified in 2009.
Alana loves guiding clients to reach their goals and aspire to higher potential! She is excited to meet people in their homes to make a specialized program work for them.
When not working, Alana is kept busy with her husband and two daughters. She loves to garden, bike, travel, and take long hikes with her dog.
1Arthritis Related Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 August 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis-related-stats.htm. Accessed 2 October 2018.