Try A Topical Treatment
Rubbing a cream on the outside of your joints can give you relief thats more than skin deep. While herbal supplements dont show too much promise for arthritis relief, topical creams seem to be more effective, says Dr. Torralba. OTC tropical rubs like capsaicin cream or Icy Hot can block pain receptors or reduce inflammation, giving you relief from arthritis pain. Read more about arthritis creams for pain relief here.
Always Protect Your Joints
The main thing Dr. Reininger teaches patients is to protect their jointseven patients who are currently symptom-free. That means always thinking about your joints, even when you’re doing small tasks, she says.
Take lifting a heavy pot, for exampleinstead, slide it across the counter. Other options include using a shoulder to open a door rather your hand and holding books in the palm of your hands, not with your fingers.
Salmon Tuna Sardines And Mackerel
These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have found can decrease inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, eating a 3 to 4 ounce serving of these fish two or more times a week is recommended for protecting the heart and reducing inflammation.
While fresh fish can get pricey quickly, one tip to make it more affordable is by looking in the freezer section or buying canned sardines, salmon or tuna. Be sure to choose lower sodium options when purchasing canned items if you need to keep your sodium in check.
Diagnosing Hand And Finger Arthritis
First, its important to correctly diagnose hand or finger arthritis, advises Dr. Newsum. Sometimes, patients experience hand or finger pain or stiffness and assume its arthritis, but there are other conditions that can cause these symptoms, he adds.
In addition to arthritis, two other common causes of hand and finger pain include trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Trigger finger is a tendonitis of the fingers flexor tendons, whereas carpal tunnel is caused by compression of a nerve in the hand, explains Dr. Newsum.
Carpal tunnel usually causes numbness, tingling or electric shooting nerve sensations in the hands that can be worse at night or aggravated by certain activities, but it can present without numbness and be mistaken for arthritis, too.
With trigger finger, pain is usually experienced in the palm of the hand at the base of the fingers. The finger can click and even get stuck in a particular position or just may cause stiffness with difficulty bending the fingers.
Clicking or sticking of a finger is a distinct symptom of trigger finger and not arthritis, clarifies Dr. Newsum.
Counseling And Other Support
Health care team
Any major disturbance in your life–such as illness or chronic pain–may make you feel anxious, depressed, angry or even hopeless.
This is your first place to turn for help. The team includes your doctor and a nurse. It may also include an occupational therapist or a physical therapist, a social worker, counselor, psychologist and a pharmacist.
Talk to the members of the team about ways to cope with pain. They may be able to help you find services in your area. Don’t be afraid to suggest to your doctor a pain management idea of your own or one from this program. You know yourself and your pain better than anyone.
Many people become depressed when they have severe pain. Some people feel so bad they cannot sleep or eat. In these cases, therapy or counseling may help.
Some people are afraid to admit they need help. They believe that others will think they are crazy if they talk to a professional about their problems. But it’s smart to get help when you need it. If you have the symptoms of depression–poor sleep, changes in appetite, crying, sad thoughts–talk with your doctor.
Some psychologists or counselors are specially trained to work with the emotional side of chronic health problems like arthritis. These people can also teach you how to manage stress. Pain is stressful. If you have increased stress, you may feel more pain. So learning to manage stress can also help you manage your pain.
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Exercise #: Table Bend
Place the pinky-side edge of your left hand on a table, with your thumb pointed up. Holding your thumb in the same position, bend the other four fingers inward until your hand makes an L shape. Hold it for a couple of seconds, and then straighten your fingers to move them back into the starting position. Repeat 10 times, and then do the same sequence on the right hand.
Part 8 of 9: Finger Lift
What Causes Arthritis Pain
Many different diseases and conditions cause chronic pain. One of the most common is arthritis, a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the joints. Other common types of chronic pain are backache, muscle pain, headache and sore feet.
Arthritis pain is caused by:
- inflammation, the process that causes the redness and swelling in your joints
- damage to joint tissues caused by the disease process or from wear and tear
- muscle strain caused by overworked muscles attempting to protect your joints from painful movements
- fatigue caused by the disease process which can make your pain seem worse and harder to handle
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Finger Or Hand Arthritis These 5 Nonsurgical Treatments May Help
Hand or finger arthritis can limit your ability to live your best, active life. And if you cant open a jar, grip your grocery bags or write a letter to a loved one without wincing in pain, it might be time to seek some solutions that may help. Many of these treatments are even safe and effective without surgery.
In fact, Nicholas J. Newsum, MD, board-certified orthopedic surgeon with fellowship training in hand, wrist, elbow and microsurgery, spoke to us about these five nonsurgical treatments for hand and finger arthritis.
How Is Arthritis In The Hand Treated
Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, stage of arthritis, how many joints are affected, your age, activity level, the hand affected and other existing medical conditions.
Goals of treatment are to:
- Improve mobility and function.
- Increase your quality of life.
- In the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment options include splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.
Splits or braces support and protect the affected joint, reduce deformity, provide joint stability, lessen strain, and promote proper joint alignment. Your healthcare provider, occupational therapist or hand therapist will discuss splinting/bracing options, how and when to wear them and how long to wear them .
Steroids reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Steroids are usually used if medications dont control inflammation or if the inflammation is limited to a few joints. Injections are administered directly into the affected joint. Because steroids can weaken tendons and ligaments, injections are repeated only a few times.
Other management strategies
A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
If nonsurgical treatments no longer provide relief and the cartilage at the ends of your bones has worn away, surgery may be an option. There are several approaches:
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Schedule Regular Swim Sessions
When it comes to joint pain, its use it or lose it the less you move your body, the more your joints will hurt when you do try to be active. As tempting as it is to stay on the couch to avoid pain, exercise is the best thing for your body in the long run. When you do hit the gym, a swim session could be your best move. It pretty much negates the effects of gravity when youre in the pool, says Dr. Khattri. Gravity is the enemy of arthritis, especially if its in the back or knees.
What Blocks Pain Signals
Many scientists think pain control methods help reduce pain by blocking pain signals. Pain signals are sent through a complex system of nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
There are many things that can block these signals and thus prevent the pain message from reaching your brain.
Pain signals are blocked by chemicals made by the brain called endorphins. There are several things that can cause the brain to produce endorphins. These include “natural” controls, such as your own thoughts and emotions, or “outside” controls such as medicines.
A father driving with his children is hurt in a car accident. The father is so worried about his children that he doesn’t feel the pain from his own broken arm. The concern for his children somehow blocked the pain signal and kept the pain from affecting him.
Certain medicines such as morphine imitate the body’s endorphins and block the pain signal. Other pain control methods, such as heat and cold treatments, physical therapy, exercise, relaxation and massage can stimulate the body to release its own endorphins or to block the pain signal in other ways.
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Meditation For Pain Management
Meditation is an ancient mind and body practice that goes back to Buddhism and other Eastern religions. It puts your focus and attention on the current moment and not letting lifeâs distractions get in your way.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, meditation can promote âcalmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.âï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ And research shows meditation can be helpful for managing chronic pain associated with conditions like OA and RA.
A 2011 article in the medical journal Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America looked at the possible benefits of meditation on people with rheumatological diseases like RA and OA, which the author cites as the most significant causes of chronic pain.ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿
The reportâs author further argues that while mind-body therapies can be effective for managing pain, only about 20% of people with chronic pain use them. This 2011 piece also discusses an older study that found only eight weeks of mediation therapy improved pain in people with RA.
Keep Calm And Crochet On: How To Keep Stitching When Arthritis Strikes
Living with arthritis or other hand pain is uncomfortable enough, but its even more frustrating when the pain limits your ability to participate in the crafts you love. However, suffering from hand pain doesnt necessarily mean you have to give up your crochet hooks. Making some changes in the tools and techniques you use may reduce the stress on your hands and let you get back to your favorite crochet projects.
The first adjustment you should make is to warm your hand muscles before crocheting, recommends the Arthritis Foundation. To prepare your hands for crochet, soak them in warm water before you start working.
Once your hands are warm, you also can try a few stretches to limber up your fingers and wrists. One simple stretch is called prayer hands. To perform this stretch, bring your hands together in the middle of your chest with your palms and fingers touching and your fingers pointing upward. Hold for a few seconds and then, keeping your hands together, rotate your wrists so your fingers point downward. Do 10 to 12 of these repetitions before you start stitching.
Although you may love to crochet for hours on end, these marathon sessions can cause pain. Work on your project in several short sessions, taking breaks of up to two hours in between. While youre crocheting, employ good posture, and support your elbows with pillows. Share your crochet experiences and any tips you have to deal with arthritic hand pain here.
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What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In The Hands
May 19, 2021
Achy, swollen hands? Stiffness in your wrists? Its common to assume these are symptoms of arthritis. While 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis, its far less frequent in the hands than people expect. Instead, what many mistake for arthritis is actually tendonitis. Let’s look at the difference between arthritis and other conditions, risk factors and treatments.
What Can I Do To Decrease Hand Arthritis Symptoms
Osetoarthritis involves degeneration of a joint or joints due to excessive wear and tear. While OA can affect joints throughout the body, it commonly affects those in the hand. People with hand OA often report feeling generalized pain and morning stiffness in the joints. In regard to appearance, people with hand OA often have enlarged knuckles and excessive bone growth on the sides of the fingers.
Although hand arthritis symptoms may be quite severe, there are many simple remedies that can help one decrease pain and stiffness.
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Who Gets Arthritis In Their Hands
You are more likely to get arthritis in your hands if:
- Youre older. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen after age 50. Rheumatoid arthritis typically first appears between the age of 35 and 50.
- Youre a woman.
- Youre white.
- Youre overweight.
- Youve had previous injuries to your hand. If youve dislocated or broken any joints in your hands or fingers, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
- You’ve inherited genes that cause the development of arthritis.
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.
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Exercise #: Thumb Bend
First, hold your left hand up straight. Then, bend your thumb inward toward your palm. Stretch for the bottom of your pinky finger with your thumb. If you cant reach your pinky, dont worry. Just stretch your thumb as far as you can. Hold the position for a second or two, and then return your thumb to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. Then do the exercise with your right hand.
Part 6 of 9: Make an O
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being overweight can drive up your inflammation. Where body fat is distributed can contribute, as well. For instance, a large waist circumference is typically associated with excess inflammation.
Researchers recognize that there is a connection between inflammation and obesity, although more needs to be learned. At the very least, talk to your healthcare provider to determine the ideal body mass index for your frame, and work toward that goal.
You don’t need to lose a lot of weight to improve inflammation. Reducing your weight by between 5% and 10% significantly lowers your level of inflammation, according to the Obesity Action Coalition.
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Recognizing Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hands
Women are more likely than men to have arthritis in their hands, and often people experience arthritis symptoms in their hands before other signs of arthritis show up. Different forms of arthritis affect the hands in different ways. For example, psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis related to the skin condition psoriasis, is most likely to cause pain in the joints closest to the fingernails , while in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, cartilage can wear down in all the joints in the fingers and thumb. Symptoms of arthritis in the hands may include:
- Pain in some or all of the joints, including joints of the fingers, wrists, and thumbs
- The growth of bony knobs on finger joints
- Numbness in fingers
- Swollen, red, or warm joints
- Stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis
- Growth of lumps, or nodules, under the skin of the hands in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
- Fingers that look like swollen sausages in patients with psoriatic arthritis
- Difficulty with motions that require gripping and twisting, such as opening jars
The progression of arthritis in the hands can actually be measured. People with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis lose bone density, which can be measured with bone-density scanning, while the joint damage of osteoarthritis can usually be seen on X-rays.
Wear A Splint To Support A Sore Joint
With rheumatoid arthritis, a classic arthritis flare may affect several joints throughout your body. You may want to protect key joints used during everyday activities. An inflamed knee can benefit from a knee brace, while you may want a hand splint or brace to help you do some basic tasks around the house. Supporting your joints will prevent further damage from rheumatoid arthritis.
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Heating Pads Or Cold Packs
Heat can be very soothing and is a readily available solution when having an arthritis flare. Heat penetrates the muscles and tissues, stimulates blood circulation, and can diminish the sensation of pain. When there is swelling around a joint, cold packs may produce more relief by decreasing inflammation.