Assistive Devices for Rheumatic Disease

Sometimes an assistive device can help a person with a rheumatic disease move better, manage pain or avoid fatigue. Such devices include:

  • Braces (e.g., back braces)
  • Canes
  • Grab bars in showers and tubs
  • Shoe inserts
  • Special tools or gadgets that can help maintain an active, independent life without straining the joints (e.g., reaching aids)
  • Splints
  • Using luggage or grocery carts
Appropriately recommended and used, an assistive device can help reduce pain. For example, a lumbar support can reduce lower back pain, which makes moving easier and the condition better.

On the other hand, many rheumatologists may not recommend splinting or bracing for fingers and wrists because it can result in stiffness or less of a range of motion. Sleeves supporting the knee, ankle or elbow may be less restrictive. Sometimes taping can be effective for fingers, knees, shoulders and elbows in helping to reduce pain and swelling. A physical therapist can teach the proper way to tape a joint.

A physical therapist can recommend safe assistive devices for walking or getting around. An occupational therapist can recommend safe assistive devices, such as reachers, grippers or home modifications that can make getting around at home easier.

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