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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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last Revised April 9, 2013

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