While there are over a hundred different typies of arthritis, they share 2 common symptoms that can affect a person's ability to participate in activities of daily living:
- Pain and achiness
- Decreased range of motion or stiffness
Which activities are affected depends on which joints are affected. For example:
- If arthritis is in the hands, then tasks that require grip and/or pinch such as buttoning or opening a jar may be difficult.
- If arthritis is in the wrists, elbows, or shoulders then activities that require strength for lifting and the range of motion for reach such as getting a casserole from the oven can be difficult.
- If arthritis affects the hips and back, then activities that require bending over such as unloading the dishwasher or putting on socks may be difficult.
- If arthritis affects the legs, then activities that require standing may be difficult to perform and can lead to increased risk of falling. Additional problems may include difficulty walking and having adequate leg strength for getting up and down from a chair or toilet
- Pain can lead to difficulties with sleep causing daytime tiredness and lack of energy that affects the ability to complete activities of daily living
For those living with arthritis, physical therapy can help maintain and/or regain leg strength and the ability to move about as well as improve joint range of motion and balance. Occupational therapy can help the person who has arthritis learn to modify their activities to protect their joints from damage, conserve their energy to be able to complete activities, and recommend and train in the use of assistive devices to make it easier to complete activities of daily living. In addition, OT can make suggestions to change the home or work environment to make it easier and safer to get things done.
The following tips can be helpful to anyone with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, or any of the other forms of arthritis that cause joint symptoms.