Splints for Rheumatoid Arthritis or Compression
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Finding Relief from Rheumas
Lately I’ve been talking a lot about ways for us to help our rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation. More specifically, I’ve been discussing a few internal and external things like exercise, nutrition and natural remedies. I thought in this article, I’d take a look at some of the external tangible things that are specific to arthritis care. I’ll also be delving into whether or not living aids and splints for rheumatoid arthritis are worth investing in. I think it’s important for all RA patients to be aware of what is out there to help us manage our disease.
As a special needs school teacher, I work very closely with professionals in physical and occupational therapy. I have asked for their expertise when compiling this article.
Are orthosis for rheumatoid arthritis necessary?
The answer to this question really depends on the severity of your symptoms and what it is that you would really like to do but can’t. Orthoses (splints) are not only to help with function and mobility but also for pain relief.
Types of splints for rheumatoid arthritis
Splints for rheumatoid arthritis can be separated into 2 categories
- Resting splints
- Working splints
Resting splints for rheumatoid arthritis are as the name suggests and for use when your joints are inactive. This is particularly good if you are going through a flare and/or if you need a little extra something for when your joints are hurting. Sometimes, my joints are worse at night and my hands have a tendency to lock and curl. The good thing about a resting hand splint for rheumatoid arthritis is that they can also be worn while sleeping. When you are a busy, full-time working mum, the only time you seem to be able to have a resting hand is when you’re sleeping!
Working splints, unlike resting splints, are to help you do things that you may not otherwise be able to do. Working splints for rheumatoid arthritis can help offer joint support when you are undertaking certain tasks. Specifically, hand splints can provide you with more grip strength and working wrist splints can help stabilize your wrist during activity.
Different braces and splints for rheumatoid arthritis
Hand splints for rheumatoid arthritis
Working hand braces for rheumatoid arthritis help to position wrist, hand and fingers in the correct position and offer you support while you carry out tasks. Resting hand splints for arthritis can help with muscle relaxation and pain relief particularly during a flare.
Ring splints for rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis finger splints or ring splints fit the fingers and thumb. They are designed to prevent or limit movement. Ring splints are also used to prevent deformities by encouraging joints to stay in their natural position. To some extent, they can reduce pain, as well as help to strengthen and increase dexterity.
Wrist brace for rheumatoid arthritis
These specifically designed braces for your wrist may include a metal bar near your palm. This helps to restrict movement and stabilise the joint while it is being used. Wrist braces can assist with pain and comfort.
Ankle brace for rheumatoid arthritis
Ankle braces help to reinforce your ankle joint during movement. These will help you bear weight with more comfort and stability. Ankle braces may also help with inflammation and swelling, as well as helping to relieve pain and pressure.
Knee brace for rheumatoid arthritis
Braces and splints for knees can help if weight bearing is uncomfortable or painful. Knee braces can also help you to move with more confidence especially during exercise. These braces can also help to manage pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Shoulder brace for rheumatoid arthritis
Shoulder braces help to maintain natural movement with reduced impact on your mobility. They can also reduce inflammation by compressing the shoulder joint.
Elbow brace for rheumatoid arthritis
Elbow braces offer robust and focused support and help to alleviate pain. These braces can also be used during resting or to help immobilise the joint if movement needs to be restricted.
What about compressions?
Compressions usually don’t come with any mechanical support and will generally not impact on mobility or function. However, wearing compression can reduce pain and swelling significantly which helps you to function better. Compressions will also help with blood flow.
To put it in a nutshell, we are basically right back where we started. Whether or not splints for rheumatoid arthritis are necessary really depends on what you need it for. If you are after more pain relief type support, then resting splints and compression are probably more suited to your needs. On the contrary, if you require more support with functionality, then splints might be more suitable. As I said earlier, it also depends on what you are trying to do or achieve but are not able to because of your symptoms.
For example, if you are finding it difficult to cut up food then perhaps it’s not a splint you need but an adaptable kitchen tool. Or perhaps, you are finding it hard to walk. Orthotics or suitable shoes may be your answer rather than an ankle brace. However, if you are feeling like your knees are about to ‘give out’ when you start to walk, then a splint is what you need.
Motion is lotion
Regardless of whether or not you require splints for rheumatoid arthritis, movement is still crucial. How you choose to move, be it yoga, swimming or walking is up to you. There are many benefits in keeping your joints active. Aside from the mental health benefits, movement will help with strengthening, flexibility and mobility. You can read more about exercise here. I also have a growing library of videos in my free exercise and strengthening program to help you.