Safe patient handling: transferring arthritis patients

Image: Safe patient handling: transferring arthritis patients

Today’s Safe Patient Handling topic involves tips and suggestions for handling patients who suffer from arthritis.

According to The Arthritis Society of Canada, arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions. The common denominator for all of these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain. Often this pain is a result of inflammation of the joint lining. When a joint becomes inflamed, it may develop redness, swelling, heat and pain, which can prevent in the normal use of the joint and/or loss of function in that joint.

How can I safely transfer someone with arthritis?

If you are assisting and/or transferring someone suffering from arthritis, it’s important to consider their limited movement in order to protect their safety and avoid causing them discomfort.

Before you transfer them, be sure to find out:

  • Where they most commonly feel discomfort from their arthritis
  • If they are currently experiencing any pain, swelling or stiffness in any joints
  • If they have any medical equipment or supplies to support the affected joint and limit the pain they experience

When you are ready to transfer the patient:

  • Any contact with the patient should be with as much of the palms as possible, preventing grip-like holds
  • Points of contact with the patient should be ‘indirect’ as opposed to ‘direct’ as this aids joint protection. An example would be to glide your arm underneath the patient’s joint (indirect) rather than painfully gripping the joint (direct).
  • Help the patient redistribute their weight, where possible, in order to decrease the amount of pressure on sore joints.
  • Keep movements as smooth as possible

If you or your loved one are suffering from arthritis and need assistance moving from one place to another, be sure to speak with a doctor for more information on tools and equipment that can help decrease pain and make movements easier on your/their muscles and joints.