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Joint Protection Dos and Don’ts

Use Your Largest, Strongest Joints

Try not to place a lot of strain on any single joint. Use large, strong joints to spare small, fragile ones. Here are some tips:

  • Carry a shoulder bag instead of a clutch or handbag.
  • Hold grocery bags in your arms, close to your body. Don’t grip them with your hands.
  • Hold small items in your palms instead of your fingers.
  • Use both hands or your shoulder to open heavy doors.
  • Hold items with two hands instead of one.

Practice Good Posture

Proper posture protects your shoulder, hip, and knee joints. To practice good posture when you lift, keep your back straight, separate your feet to widen your base, and bend at your knees and hips, not your waist.

When seated, rest your feet flat on the floor and keep your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle. Sit upright and lift your chest. Imagine a string tied to the second button of your shirt or blouse going straight up toward the ceiling.

Eat for Joint Health

Although there is no specific diet to ease rheumatoid arthritis or keep joints strong, some nutrients may have positive, protective effects:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements can reduce inflammation associated with RA. Good sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines.
  • Calcium and vitamin D. Many people with RA don't get enough calcium and vitamin D. Both are important for strong bones, which you need for healthy joints. They also help hold off osteoporosis, which also becomes more likely when you have RA. Most adults need 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium a day and 600-800 international units of vitamin D daily.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on November 20, 2014
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