Top Tips For Managing Arthritis In Your Hands
The internet is overloaded with advice and exercise tips that are good for your hands, and information overload can be overwhelming. Therefore, we have put together a helpful list of tips to manage arthritis pain in your hands, exercises that will help and other useful information.
Arthritis in the hands presents with painful joints, swelling, difficulty with movement, and limited function, like being unable to grip properly. Clinical interventions aim to reduce pain, control swelling, improve range of motion and improve the function of the hand, like gripping.
Early in March, Gail Donaldson, a physiotherapist from Wellhand, did a talk in Wellington and advised people with arthritis in their hands about how they can manage pain and do useful exercises. Much of the information in this article is from the presentation. The video link is at the end of this article.
As with all exercise advice for people with arthritis always work within your comfort level and do not force any movements. No one can tell you how often or how long you should do any exercise.
Your arthritis pain and discomfort is unique to you, and you will need to find your balance. Remember, a key thing to help you find your balance is: too much exercise causes pain, too little exercise cause stiffness. Trial different exercises for different periods and find your balance.
Why Its Important To Trust A Hand And Finger Expert
When youre looking for an expert to guide you to the answers and relief you need, its important to trust a doctor with specialized knowledge and training.
When asked about his expertise and training, Dr. Newsum explained, Two important things to look for in your surgeon are whether they are fellowship-trained and board-certified in their specialty. Meeting the requirements means your doctor has had very specific training in the anatomy, pathophysiology, treatments and the latest nonsurgical surgical techniques to heal a number of conditions that affect the arm, hand and fingers, and that they are up to date on the latest treatments. I focus my time on my specialty exclusively in order to provide evidence-based treatment to both adults and children and deliver expert, compassionate care.
And when asked why he loves to do what he does, Dr. Newsum described two motivating factors: excellent mentors throughout his training and career, and helping people quickly regain their functioning again.
Dr. Newsum concludes, We use our hands for everything, so I get to make an impact in peoples lives that makes a big difference. I really think my specialty and subspecialty reflect the core of values of modern medicine: to reduce pain and restore function.
If youre experiencing pain or stiffness in your fingers or hands, turn to our experts for help. Learn more about AdventHealths Hand to Shoulder Center experts.
How Do I Relieve Arthritis Hand Pain
Arthritis hand pain typically can be relieved with the use of anti-inflammatory medications or pain relieving injections. There are also natural home remedies that could be effective for the temporary relief of arthritis hand pain, including heat, ice, and various herbal tea concoctions. When pain is severe and non-responsive to other types of treatment, a doctor might recommend wearing a splint on the hand. If all options for pain relief have failed, surgery may ultimately be necessary.
The anti-inflammatory drugs a doctor will usually recommend for the relief of arthritis hand pain include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. He may also prescribe stronger medicines containing these ingredients for people with severe arthritis pain. If these medicines fail to provide relief, the next option is typically injections. Most injections contain a long-lasting anesthetic that may provide relief for a few days. Injections containing steroids can provide pain relief for a few months, but doctors normally only use these for people with very severe arthritis pain.
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Changes In Surrounding Joints
In patients with advanced thumb base arthritis, the neighboring joints may become more mobile than normal.
Thumb extension deformity. This patient has lost mobility at the base of the thumb due to arthritis. The next joint closer to the tip of the thumb has become more mobile than normal to make up for the arthritic joint. Normally, the thumb does not come to a right angle with the rest of the hand.
Sip 4 Cups Of Green Tea A Day
In a study on mice, Case Western Reserve University researchers gave one group the equivalent of four cups of green tea a day and the other group the same amount of plain water. Then they gave all mice a substance to induce RA. The tea-drinking mice were far less likely to develop arthritis than the mice that drank water. Other research has found teas polyphenol antioxidants were anti-inflammatory, improved arthritis-related immune responses, and significantly reduced cartilage damage.
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Exercise #: Finger Bends
Start in the same position as in the last exercise, with your left hand held up straight. Bend your thumb down toward your palm. Hold it for a couple of seconds. Straighten your thumb back up. Then bend your index finger down toward your palm. Hold it for a couple of seconds. Then straighten it. Repeat with each finger on the left hand. Then repeat the entire sequence on the right hand.
Part 5 of 9: Thumb Bend
Keeping Your Hands And Wrists Moving
Moving your hands, wrists and fingers as much as possible can help ease pain and stiffness. This will also maintain range of movement, function and strength.
We have some exercises you can do at home. Try to do them as regularly as you can, especially if your hands and wrists are feeling stiff.
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, talk to a physiotherapist, GP or hand therapist for specific advice on exercise.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand/wrist
Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand is most common in the wrist and knuckles. Often the joints feel hot and look red. The disease is symmetric, thus what occurs in one hand usually occurs in the other.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand/Wrist
- Sudden inability to straighten or bend a finger
- Numbness and tingling in hand
- May hear a squeaky sound as they move their hands and fingers
- May feel a snap or locking sensation in the hand and fingers
- Deformity in which the middle finger joint becomes bent
- Deformity where the end of the finger is bent and the middle joint over extends
Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand/Wrist Treatment Options
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but medications are available that slow the progression of the disease. Optimal care involves a team approach among the patient, physicians, and therapists. The care of the rheumatoid patient requires not only a hand surgeon but also a hand therapist, rheumatologist, and the patientâs primary care physician. The rheumatologist is often the physician that monitors and decides the specific type of medicine that is felt to be the most effective for the patientâs stage in the disease process.
- social information if applicable
More Tips For Your Hands
Moving your hands and fingers can help keep your ligaments and tendons flexible and increase the function of synovial fluid. Try regular hand exercises to strengthen muscles and relieve stiffness and pain. Simple exercises like flexing and bending, finger touching, and finger sliding may help keep your fingers limber.
Staying physically active while at the same time taking extra precautions against injury is vital not only for preventing arthritis, but also for your overall physical health.
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Castor Oil Also Relieves Arthritis Pain In Hands
Talking about oil massage, you can also use Castor oil for the purpose. This oil has a component called ricinoleic acid that contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was not in vain when your mother insisted on gulping castor oil in your childhood days. You can still have it internally. Just heat up two tablespoons of castor oil and add it to your daily breakfast juice. While you may not get instant relief from pain but will sure feel the difference in the level of pain within a couple of weeks. Massaging your hands with this castor oil can also give you relief from swollen fingers and joints as well as from pain
- Add peppermint and eucalyptus oil to the carrier oil of your choice.
- Now store this oil blend in a small dark glass bottle somewhere away from direct sunlight.
- Whenever, you get a flare-up, just take some drops of this oil and rub onto your hands or fingers.
Make A Few Wardrobe Changes
Minor changes to your wardrobe can reduce strain on your hands, helping to ease your overall pain and stiffness. For example, try wearing:
- Shoes that slip on or use Velcro rather than shoelaces
- Shirts that pull over the head rather than button up
- Pants that have elastic waistbands rather than snaps and zippers
Other lifestyle changes can also be helpful. For example, when cooking, use a jar opener, lightweight pots and pans, and kitchen utensils with large handles. An occupational therapist can give you additional ideas on how to reduce strain on hand joints.
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Can Arthritis In The Hand Be Prevented
Arthritis cant be prevented. However, you can watch for symptoms of arthritis as you age and see your healthcare provider if you notice changes in your joints. You can also take steps to control factors that you can control. Eat healthy to nourish your body and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts more stress on your joints. Dont smoke. Smoking increases your risk of arthritis.
What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
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Tips For Preventing Arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis. In fact, most treatments for arthritis are aimed at early recognition and prevention. Genetics can increase your likelihood for developing arthritis, as can a strong family history of the disease. Women are also more prone to arthritis than men.
You may try to prevent arthritis and still develop the disease. However, you can take actions to reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This can help to fight off OA.
- Dont smoke, or quit smoking. This may reduce your chance of developing RA.
- Try to avoid injury when playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- If your job requires a lot of pushing, pulling, or lifting of heavy objects, take precautions to avoid injury to your joints.
- If your job calls for a lot of typing, practice good posture. If necessary, get a special keyboard, wrist cushion, or pad.
Exercise #: Make A Fist
You can do this easy exercise anywhere, and any time your hand feels stiff. Start by holding your left hand up straight. Then, slowly bend your hand into a fist, placing your thumb on the outside of your hand. Be gentledont squeeze your hand. Open your hand back up until your fingers are straight once again. Do the exercise 10 times with the left hand. Then repeat the whole sequence with the right hand.
Part 4 of 9: Finger Bends
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What Is Arthritis Pain
Pain is your bodyâs alarm system. Pain tells you something is wrong. When part of your body is injured or damaged, nerves in that area release chemical signals. Other nerves act like tiny telephone wires and send these signals to your brain where they are recognized as pain. Pain âtellsâ you that you need to do something. For example, if you touch a hot stove, the pain signal makes you pull away your hand to prevent further injury. This type of pain is useful because it is your bodyâs way of protecting you from further injury.
Long-lasting pain, for example, the pain of arthritis, is a bit different. While chronic pain is also an alarm that tells you something is wrong, it often isnât sufficiently relieved when you treat it. Controlling this type of pain is important since it can disrupt your life.
The methods used to control short-term pain, such as strong painkillers, are not useful for controlling the chronic pain of arthritis. Other methods such as those listed in this article can help.
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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.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Hand Surgery
Recovery time depends on many factors, including the severity of your condition, type of surgery you had, the skill of your surgeon and your compliance with therapy. Most people can return to their activities about three months after joint reconstruction surgery. Your team of caregivers can give you the best estimate of your particular recovery time.
Soak And Exercise Hands In Warm Water
Many people with hand OA report that soaking their hands in warm water in the morning assists in decreasing the stiffness.
Begin by filling a clean sink or large basin with warm water.
If swelling is also noted, add approximately ¼ cup of Epsom salt to the water to assist in decreasing the swelling.
While soaking the hands, gently perform range-of-motion exercises, such as opening and closing the fingers and spreading the fingers apart and then back together.
If you notice hand stiffness during a time when soaking is not an option, you can perform the same range-of motion exercises under running water.
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What Are The Causes Of Hand Arthritis
The exact cause of hand arthritis is unknown. The condition usually develops due to wear and tear of the joint, which occurs gradually over time.
Theres also a genetic component to hand OA. Family members may develop OA at a younger age than the general population, and may have more severe disease.
A healthy joint has cartilage at the end of the bone that cushions and allows smooth movement. In OA, cartilage deteriorates, exposing the underlying bone, which triggers joint pain and stiffness.
Your risk for OA increases if you:
- have a family member who also has degenerative joint pain of the hands
- are older
- have a job that requires a lot of hand work such as manufacturing
- have had a hand injury
The more you use your hands, the more wear and tear you place on the joints and the cartilage that supports them.
Theres also a higher risk factor for hand arthritis if youre female. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
People born with malformed joints or defective cartilage are also more likely to develop this condition.
Diagnosing hand arthritis involves an evaluation and tests. Your doctor will check the joints in your hand for signs of OA.
- limited range of motion
In some cases, your doctor will also order an X-ray to look for cartilage loss and other signs of damage. This can indicate arthritis of the hand and that they should look for potential bone spurs and erosions.
Exercise #: Finger Lift
Place your left hand flat on a table, palm down. Starting with your thumb, lift each finger slowly off the tableone at a time. Hold each finger for a second or two, and then lower it. Do the same exercise with every finger of the left hand. After youre done with the left hand, repeat the entire sequence on the right hand.
Part 9 of 9: Wrist Stretch
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