Your hands are constantly on the go. Every day activities, such as
preparing a meal, woodworking, carrying grocery bags, or using your
computer, can damage your hands over time. Joint protection
techniques can help reduce pain, stress, and inflammation of your
joints. These techniques can also help prevent further deformities and
increase your independence in daily activities. There are many easy
and inexpensive ways to protect your hands. Here are a few tips to
keep your hands healthy.
GIVE YOUR HANDS A BREAK
- If you have pain during an activity, stop the activity. Pain is one of the
best ways your body has of letting you know that you are causing
tissue damage. So listen to and respect your pain.
- Protect the small joints of your hands and avoid carrying several
plastic grocery bags at once to save time. Use paper bags, carry
them one at a time, and hold them at the bottom instead of using
- If writing is painful, try using a thick, rubber grip pen with a gel tip or
roller ball to decrease the amount of pressure used.
- Remember to stretch and take rest breaks every 15 minutes during
repetitive or prolonged activities such as needlework, painting,
sewing, knitting, hammering, and filing.
- Figure out which activities aggravate your symptoms & avoid or
modify them; don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
- Use pump shampoos and toothpaste-use the palm of your hand to
pump instead of squeezing the container.
DON’T USE YOUR HAND AS A TOOL
- Don’t tear mail open-use a letter opener to open the mail.
- Use utility scissors in the kitchen-do not rip open bags.
- Always use the right tool for the job – use pliers for tight pinch and
small hammer for pounding.
- Use staple remover instead of your fingers and thumb.
- Get rid of your manual can opener – go electric! Manual can openers
place excessive strain on your joints.
- Instead of holding open books or magazines with one hand – use a
book stand or holder to bring the book to eye level and a book clip or
“chip” clip to avoid prolonged gripping.
USE ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT TO DECREASE
STRESS ON YOUR JOINTS
- Use devices to hold object so you don’t have to, e.g. a vice, a cutting
board with picks to hold food, etc.
- Use foam to enlarge small diameter objects such as paring knives,
cutlery, toothbrushes, paintbrushes, pens and pencils.
- Purchase lightweight kitchen, gardening, and workshop tools with
- Use a non-slip jar opener – opening jars places undue stress on
- If you have pain using keys to open doors, consider adding a key
extender to your keys.
- If you have difficulty opening doorknobs or faucets, purchase
doorknob or water faucet handle extenders.
- Consider a card holder if you play cards for extended periods of time.
- Perform a search on the Internet for “adaptive equipment” to see
what products are available.