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Overview of joint protection

Maureen R Gecht-Silver, OTD, MPH, OTR/L
Alison M Duncombe, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Section Editor
Zacharia Isaac, MD
Deputy Editor
Monica Ramirez Curtis, MD, MPH


Patients with unstable or painful joints may have a limited understanding of activities that increase the risk of further joint damage or that promote inflammation. This topic will review the concept of joint protection and will suggest approaches to evaluation and interventions that may promote joint health.

Specific applications of joint protection to particular sites are presented separately. (See "Joint protection program for the upper limb" and "Joint protection program for the lower limb" and "Joint protection program for the neck".)

What is joint protection? — Joint protection is a process that includes the following two major components [1,2]:

Individualized assessment of a patient’s activities to ascertain the potential to contribute to worsening pain, inflammation, instability, and/or deformity of an already abnormal joint

Creation of a program to increase a patient’s functional ability that includes altered work methods, behavioral modifications, and good body mechanics and that is supplemented, if necessary, with splints, braces, or adaptive equipment designed to minimize further joint damage

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Apr 17, 2017.
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