Arthritis and Rehabilitation

Authored by Michelle Eliason, MS, OTR/L, CKTS, C.D.S.

What is Arthritis?

Outpatient occupational therapy, like every other outpatient rehabilitation, is a specialized area of rehab that makes the ability to recover more accessible for you when you return home. Occupational therapy uses a hybrid approach to rehabilitation which begins by correcting the physical aspects of joint rehabilitation and ends with ensuring you can accomplish all of the activities you find meaningful in your daily life.

How are joint replacement surgeries conducted? 

What are the different types of joint replacement surgeries? 

Common Types of Arthritis

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Reactive Arthritis
  • Thumb Arthritis
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis


Meaningful activities [occupations] affected by arthritis pain


  • Putting on your shirt or jacket
  • Driving
  • Fulfilling caregiving roles
  • Showering
  • Shoveling (in winter)
  • Writing (with non-dominant hand)
  • Walking
  • Walking up and Down Stairs
  • Exercising 
  • Roles and responsibilities of Work
  • Crafting


Meaningful activities [occupations] affected by arthritis pain

  • Any Joint or Systemic (all over)
    • Shoulders
    • Hips
    • Ankles
    • Feet
    • Fingers
  • How does it feel?
    • Inconsistent, Mild to Debilitating pain
    • Affects mobility
      • Range of motion 
      • Grip
      • Motor and Coordination


How can occupational therapy help arthritis??

Check out other problems we help resolve!

Helpful Page Definititions

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are essential for independence in life roles and required for aging in place. There are 8 activities core activities for independence including cooking, cleaning, communication, taking and managing medication, handling your personal finances, transportation and community mobility, shopping

Cooking - The ability to follow a recipe and having the stamina to prepare a meal for yourself and/or your family

Cleaning -   The ability to perform light housekeeping including making your bed, doing your laundry, washing the dishes, taking out the trash, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning your bathroom, etc. 

Communication - The ability to use the telephone, the computer, have conversations with people (familiar and strangers), communicate your needs clearly.

Taking medication - The ability to sort and organize your medication or determine a compensatory method to do so as well as taking the appropriate dosage at the appropriate time. 

Personal Finances - The ability to establish an organization method to understand financial responsibilities and pay your bills on time. 

Transportation - Whether you are driving, calling for a driving service like a taxi or Uber, or taking public education. You must have a defined action plan for community mobility and transportation.

Shopping - The ability to plan transportation, plan a grocery/clothing list of needs for yourself and your home, have the stamina to collect your items at the store, and be able to get them into your house. 

Activities of Daily Living

Occupational therapists are trained in occupations and activity analysis. An occupation is an activity that you believe is important to your life. There are many levels of occupations, but activities of daily living (ADLs) are the most personal activities and are usually the ones people find most important if they were to lose the ability to complete them.  

ADLs include:

  • Bathing and showering
  • Getting dressed
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Walking and getting up and down from a chair or car
  • Eating and swallowing
  • Feeding 
  • Sexual activity 
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Being able to use personal care devices like adaptive equipment and durable medical equipment