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Assistive Devices and Orthotics - Topic Overview

Assistive devices and orthotics are tools that help you hold objects, open and close things, transfer weight while shifting positions, or walk. It is important to find a balance between use and rest of a painful (arthritic) joint. When exercise is not enough to control pain, assistive devices and orthotics may help to reduce stress on a joint by shifting weight off of the joint. The Arthritis Foundation at 1-800-283-7800 or a medical supply company may be able to help you find assistive devices.

Assistive devices should be used in combination with exercise.

  • A cane or crutch used on the side opposite a painful knee or hip can help reduce stress on the joint.
  • Braces and splints can be used in certain situations to help decrease pain by relieving joint strain.
  • Stools, carts, trash cans, or other objects on wheels can be pushed rather than carried or lifted.
  • Doorknob extenders can be used to open doors without twisting the doorknob.
  • An elevated toilet seat may be helpful, especially for a painful knee or hip.
  • Molded or padded handles make objects such as keys, kitchen gadgets, combs, or toothbrushes easier to hold.
  • Velcro fasteners on clothes can replace buttons and are easier to use than small buttons or snaps. Large pull tabs make zippers easier to hold and pull.
  • Electrical appliances (such as can openers, scissors, or power tools) can reduce the need for twisting movements.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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