Arthritis is one of the leading causes of functional disability and morbidity in the elderly patients. In these patients, non-pharmacologic options like exercise, weight loss, physical therapy, bracing and orthotics should be considered first to minimize the use of medication that may cause adverse effects (AE), increase the risk of co-morbidities, medication toxicity, and poly-pharmacy while relieving some degree of pain. The assistive devices are products or tools that are designed specifically to assist the patient with day-to-day tasks to provide a path to independence.
External braces are devices that support the joint and decrease the pressure/strain placed on it during normal movements. It is most effective in pain that is centered on a joint such as knee or wrist.
Walkers, crutches, or canes
In patients that experience knee or hip pain especially while walking, an assistive device such as a walker or cane used on the opposite side of the body can provide added relief while walking. These are best suitable for patients that have lot of leg weakness or a balance problem. Wheels or platforms can be added to the walker to make them more comfortable and useful for patients who cannot walk at all.
Orthotics is special lightweight inserts that are applied in shoes to relieve pain in feet or legs while walking. They are available as over-the-counter options or can be made in association with a podiatrist to develop a personalized solution. Other options include padded insoles or a pair of comfortable orthopedic shoes.