Document Type

Critically Appraised Topic

Publication Date

2010

Clinical Scenario

My father has a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Through discussion, I learned that he had joint pain in his hands and would have his wife open the lids of jars for him. I asked how he opened the jar and instructed him on how to open the jar with the use of a joint protection technique. This prompted me to contemplate whether or not using joint protection would enable him to open the jars independently, thereby increasing his task performance. It is a clinically relevant question because joint protection is commonly employed by occupational therapists as an intervention for RA.

Clinical Question

In RA, do joint protection techniques improve task performance?

Clinical Bottom Line

Joint protection may provide benefits that increase task performance. At the very least, the use of joint protection management techniques may reduce direct and indirect symptoms or rheumatoid arthritis, which may help to enable the highest task performance possible. Because the use of joint protection relies on consistent use, patient adherence is of important consideration regarding the efficacy of joint protection. None of the evidence from the selected studies indicates that joint protection reduces task performance or contributes to further impairment.

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