Topic Overview

The goal of occupational therapy is to help people live as
independently as possible.
Occupational therapists use work, self-care, and
recreational activities to increase the flexibility and independent function of
people who have
rheumatoid arthritis and other long-lasting
conditions. This therapy can include:

  • Help and training in doing things like dressing, cooking, and eating.
  • Physical exercises to
    increase good posture and joint motion as well as overall strength and
    flexibility. For example, people who have hand and wrist stiffness may be taught to
    exercise those joints right after doing the dishes, while the joints are warm
    and looser.
  • Evaluation of your daily living needs and assessment of
    your home and work environments. The therapist can suggest changes in those
    environments that will help you continue your
  • Assessment and training in the use of
    assistive devices. These devices include special key holders if
    hands are stiff, computer-aided adaptive equipment, and wheelchairs.
  • Fitting splints for the hands.
  • Specific hand-stretching and hand-strengthening exercises.
  • Guidance for
    family members and caregivers.

Occupational therapists help people who have arthritis or other
chronic pain conditions to protect their joints and conserve energy. They also help these people expand their range of motion and strength. This helps maintain joint
function. For example, occupational therapists can teach techniques to avoid
applying excessive force on non-weight-bearing joints. And they can teach you how to avoid unnecessary
impacts on weight-bearing joints.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH – Internal Medicine, Rheumatology

Current as ofOctober 10, 2017