Rheumatoid Arthritis And Hands
Rheumatoid arthritis often starts in smaller joints such as in the hand or wrist. One of the early signs of RA in the hands is aninability to form a complete fist.
It usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern, affecting both hands including the knuckle joints, middle finger joints and wrists. People withlong-standing RA or those diagnosed later in life may notice a deviation of their fingers to the side, away from the thumb.
Surrounding tendons can also become inflamed, affecting the ability to straighten fingers. People with RA are also more susceptible todeveloping carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition caused by pressure on nerves that run through the wrist, with symptoms of numbness, pins andneedles, and pain.
How To Prevent Arthritis In Fingers
As you may be predisposed to arthritis in fingers, following these can reduce your chances of developing the condition:
- Regular hand and finger exercises
- Taking good care of hands and fingers after they sustain any kind of injury
- Quitting cigarettes
Arthritis in fingers may be from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or psoriatic arthritis. Some people are more prone to arthritis than others as lifestyle, previous injuries, and genetics play a role in the development of the condition. While arthritis cannot be reversed completely, early treatment may slow down its progress. You can manage the symptoms of arthritis with regular exercise, supplementation, and hot or cold massage. It is important that you work with your healthcare professional throughout to get the most out of your arthritis treatment and management options.
What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
Hand osteoarthritis is inflammation that causes pain and stiffness in your joints. It usually happens in three places:
- The base of your thumb, where it meets your wrist
- One of the joints closest to your fingertips
- The middle joint of a finger
There’s no cure, but there are a lot of ways to protect your joints and feel better.
Without treatment, osteoarthritis gets worse over time. Itâs important to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan as soon as possible.
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Stay Active To Prevent Stiffness In Your Joints
Learn New Cooking Skills
Whether you love to cook or not, chances are you at least stir sauce or chop veggies from time to time. Even these sous chef efforts benefit from joint protection to prevent arthritis hand pain. For example, instead of stirring the sauce with your thumb and finger wrapped around the handle, hold your thumb on top of the utensil like you were holding an ice pick and stabbing ice and stir using shoulder motion. This method takes pressure off the joints and utilizes your shoulder to stir the sauce. Dodge suggests using kitchen tools with large handles and electric appliances, such as a can and jar openers and food processors. Check out more kitchen hacks for easier meal prep.
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Treating Hand Arthritis At Home
Arthritis limits hand dexterity and makes everyday tasks more difficult. Described below are several ways people can help relieve stress on their hand joints and make some tasks easier.
Rest the hands periodicallyGive the joints and tendons in the hand a needed break. For example, people who type at a computer may need to take regular breaks or divide their work into regular intervals, working for just 2 or 3 hours at a time.
Apply heat A warm compress or paraffin wax hand bath can soothe affected joints. Applying heat to the hand warms up the synovial fluid that lubricates joints, easing stiffness, and improving flexibility.
See When and Why to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint
Adapt when possible
A few simple lifestyle changes and products can reduce strain on the hands and minimize arthritis pain and swelling. For example:
- Wear coats and shirts with zippers instead of buttons.
- Use long zipper pulls, which are also larger than regular zipper pulls and therefore easier to grasp. Some specialized zipper pulls are made with looped cloth or nylon and allow the user to stick a finger through and pull up or down.
- Choose lightweight cooking and gardening tools that are easier to lift and hold.
- Buy slip-on shoes to avoid having to tie shoelaces.
In addition to making changes at home, people with arthritis may consider treatments recommended by their physician.
Stop Avoiding Mobility Aids
A cane, walker, or wheelchair may be necessary for some people with arthritis to stay independent and get around on their own. Understandably it can be tough to think about needing some sort of mobility aid, but if you do need one and dont use it you risk missing out on things you would enjoy.
A cane or wheelchair doesnt define who you are, and no one will judge you or think less of you for using one. In fact, youll probably be admired for getting out there and having fun in spite of needing a little help.
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Exercises To Prevent Arthritis In Your Hands
Arthritis in the hands is characterized by pain, swelling and stiffness. In many cases, one of the causes is excessive use of the computer and mouse. Therefore, we should try to prevent it before its too late.
If you work with a keyboard all the time, you should get used to taking breaks every half hour. You should use those breaks to move your hands, fingers and wrists. Or, try giving your hands a little massage. You can also do this in the morning and before going to bed.
Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin C
Vitamin C not only helps produce collagen, a major component of joints, but sweeps the body of destructive free radicals, which are harmful to joints. One of the best-known studies looking into vitamin C and arthritis found that people whose diets routinely included high amounts of vitamin C had significantly less risk of their arthritis progressing. Spread out your intake throughout the day because your body doesnt store vitamin C rather, it takes what it needs from the bloodstream at any given time and flushes out the rest. This means a megadose in the morning doesnt really do as much good. Sip citrus drinks or eat C-rich fruits and vegetables such as strawberries or melon, broccoli, or sweet peppers. And be sure to avoid these foods that might flare your arthritis.
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Soak In An Epsom Salt Bath
Osteoarthritis In Fingers And Joints In Hands
Osteoarthritis is an arthritic condition that affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. While this form ofarthritis can affect other areas of the body, fingers and hands are very common. In osteoarthritis, the joint at the base of the thumb isoften affected and can result in difficulty gripping or pinching objects. Other finger joints can also be affected and bumps calledHerbedens nodes and Bouchards nodes may appear in the joint at the end of the finger, closest to the nail or the middle joints.
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Types Of Arthritis In Hands
The 5 types of arthritis in the hands include:
- Tingling and numbness in the fingers
- Deformities such as Bouchardâs nodes and Heberdenâs nodes
Who Is At Risk For Arthritis
Some risk factors for arthritis that cant be avoided or changed include:
Age. The older you are, the more likely you are to have arthritis.
Gender. Women are more likely to have arthritis than men.
Heredity. Some types of arthritis are linked to certain genes.
Risk factors that may be avoided or changed include:
Weight. Being overweight or obese can damage your knee joints. This can make them more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
Injury. A joint that has been damaged by an injury is more likely to develop arthritis at some point.
Infection. Reactive arthritis can affect joints after an infection.
Your job. Work that involves repeated bending or squatting can lead to knee arthritis.
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Hand Exercises To Ease Arthritis Pain
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Arthritis wears away at the cartilage of a joint, which is the cushioning material between bones.
This can cause inflammation and irritation of the synovial lining, which produces the synovial fluid that helps protect and lubricate the joint.
When arthritis affects the joints of the hands, it can cause pain and stiffness. That pain can get worse whenever you use your hand a lot for repetitive tasks.
For example, typing on a computer keyboard or gripping utensils in the kitchen can cause discomfort. You may also lose strength in your hands.
Weakness in your hands can make it hard to do even the simplest everyday tasks, such as opening jars.
What Causes Finger Arthritis
Arthritis in fingers develops when the cartilage that cushions the bones located at finger joints gets damaged. The joints are where two bones meet, and due to the damage to the cartilage, the smooth movement between the bones at those points gets affected.
While there is not one single cause that is responsible for the development of arthritis, you are more at risk of getting it if you are :
- Above 35 years old
- Genetically prone
- Carrying any previous injury to your hand, wrist, or fingers
Arthritis in fingers can creep up on anyone, so it is best to know how to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Head on to the next section to find out how.
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Managing Hand And Wrist Pain
Research shows it is effective for providing symptom relief for people with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand because of a squeezed nerve in the wrist.
A study reported in 2017 in the journal Brain found people with carpal tunnel can experience improvements in pain and numbness using acupuncture. In addition, researchers suggested acupuncturewhen done correctlycan also offer long-term benefits and continued improvements in hand function.
These findings could hold promise for hand pain associated with arthritis.
Managing General Ra Pain
While acupuncture for RA hand pain and symptoms hasnt been examined, studies have explored using acupuncture to manage general RA pain. They demonstrate that acupuncture can curb pain because it boosts endorphins, the bodys natural pain killers.
For example, a 2018 systematic review published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found acupuncture alone or with other therapies can help manage pain and function and improve quality of life in people with RA without side effects.
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Common Symptoms Of Finger Arthritis
Depending on what type of arthritis is affecting you, you may experience one or more of these symptoms. The following are commonly associated with arthritis in fingers:
- Pain in the joints
- Lumps or nodules around finger knuckles
- Crooked fingers that bend away from the thumb
All these are indicative of the underlying cause for the achy and stiff fingers. Lets see what that is in the next section.
Consider Topical Pain Medication
Over the counter gels, balms, creams, or patches are ideal for hand joints, which lie just below the skin. Regardless of how they are applied, most topical arthritis pain relievers fall into these categories:
- Salicylates, which have mild anti-inflammatory effects
- Counterirritants, which distract from pain
- Capsaicin products, which distract from pain and may have a role in blocking pain signals
- Cannabidiol products
- Lidocaine products, which work as local anesthetics
While topical products are generally safe, their ingredients can enter the bloodstream and produce side effects or interact with other medications. Its advisable to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before trying any new medication.
See Topical Pain Relief for Arthritis
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis
Each persons symptoms may vary. The most common symptoms include:
Pain in 1 or more joints that doesnt go away, or comes back
Warmth and redness in 1 or more joints
Swelling in 1 or more joints
Stiffness in 1 or more joints
Trouble moving 1 or more joints in a normal way
These symptoms can look like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Try Cold Therapy To Reduce Swelling
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How Can I Protect My Sore Hands
Here are some ways to protect the joints in your hands:
- Take notice of pain it can serve as a warning that your joints are being overworked. Rather than giving up an activity altogether, try taking regular rests during the activity and learning ways to manage pain. You will usually find you can still do the things you enjoy without discomfort.
- Use larger, stronger joints for example, carry your shopping bags over your shoulder rather than in your hands.
- Spread the load over several joints try carrying things with two hands.
- Reduce the effort you have to put in there is a wide range of labour-saving tools and equipment available. Buy pre-cut vegetables and meat to make cooking easier.
- Avoid gripping things tightly find out about gadgets that can make gripping and holding objects easier.
- See an occupational therapist to learn more ways to make daily tasks easier and take pressure off your joints.
- Visit an Independent Living Centre. These centres have a wide range of tools and equipment on display. You can get advice, including where to purchase equipment, in person or over the phone. Occupational therapists are also available at the centres to provide advice about equipment. Although you can drop in at anytime, it is preferred that you call the telephone enquiry service beforehand.
What Is Arthritis Of The Hand
Arthritis is a disease that attacks the tissues of your joints. A joint is where two bones meet. Arthritis can attack the lining of your joint or the cartilage, the smooth covering at the ends of bones. Eventually the cartilage breaks down, the ends of your bones become exposed, rub against each other and wear away. You have many joints in your hand, therefore its a common site for arthritis to happen.
Arthritis of the hand causes pain and swelling, stiffness and deformity. As arthritis progresses, you cant use your hands to manage everyday tasks as you once could.
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