Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy can also be used to address the arthritis symptoms in your hands. Try applying ice to your swollen joints for at least 10 minutes at a time to help reduce the swelling. When applying ice to your hands, be sure to use a cloth to prevent any skin damage. As an alternative, try placing your hands in a tub of warm water for heat therapy. This can help ease your stiff joints. There are plenty of over the counter products available for hot and cold therapy that can help too.
How Will It Affect Me
The symptoms of hand osteoarthritis can vary between different people and over time. You’ll probably have good days and bad days. You may find this depends on what you’re doing, but sometimes there may not be any obvious reason.
If the joints are inflamed then they’re likely to look swollen and red and to feel warm and tender to the touch. You’re likely to have pain, especially when using your hands but sometimes even while resting. Swelling can also cause the soft tissues around a joint to stretch, which can make your hands feel weak or unstable.
As we use our hands such a lot in daily life, pain, stiffness or poor grip strength can cause problems with a wide variety of tasks and activities including:
- opening jars and cans
- holding a pen or cutlery
- doing up buttons or zips
- handling money
- shaving, brushing your teeth, or drying yourself after a bath or shower.
Hand osteoarthritis often tends to ‘burn out’ after a time. It may be painful for a few years and then the pain may improve, especially if only the small finger joints are affected. Any firm, knobbly swellings or nodes that have developed will remain though. And the range of movement in the joints doesn’t always improve even when the pain does.
Sometimes the weather, especially cold weather, can make your symptoms worse. However, the weather won’t affect the long-term outlook or how the condition progresses.
How Arthritis Changes Your Grip
Arthritis in the hands changes your grip from a structural perspective. Arthritis in the fingers and thumbs is incredibly common and it always affects your grip because 50 percent of hand use and 100 percent of gripping requires a functioning thumb, says A. Lee Osterman, MD, a professor of hand and orthopedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University and president of the Philadelphia Hand Center.
Osteoarthritis of the thumb causes gripping and pinching to become very painful and can result in significant disability, he says.
Inflammation from inflammatory arthritis types such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis can cause weakness in the grip, says John Esdaile, MD, MPH, rheumatologist and the scientific director of Arthritis Research Canada. Osteoarthritis can also cause inflammation in your hand from the breakdown of cartilage, he says.
Arthritis also changes your grip functionally. Swollen, painful joints are simply harder to use.
If you have wrist, thumb, or finger pain, you need to let your doctor know, even if there are no outward signs like swelling, redness, or disfigurement, he says. They can help you get the inflammation and pain under control before it limits your strength and range of motion, he explains. Take our PainSpot quiz to figure out what could be causing your hand pain.
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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
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.
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Treatment For Hand Arthritis
Treating hand arthritis usually starts with conservative methods of taking anti-inflammatory medications, ice and heat therapy, splinting, and manipulation therapies. If pain persists, doctors may recommend steroid injections for immediate pain relief. However, this treatment method only offers temporary relief. When arthritis pain in the hand progresses and conservative treatments fail to bring relief, there may be damage to the hands joints, in which case, surgery may be necessary.
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 lifes distractions get in your way.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, meditation can promote calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being. 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.
The reports 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.
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How To Treat Osteoarthritis
The goals in treating osteoarthritis are to relieve pain and restore function. Brief rest either by changing activities or wearing a splint can help. Soft, snug sleeves can help support a joint when rigid splints are too restrictive. Heat can soothe the joints and help keep them mobile. It is important to keep as much finger motion and function as possible. Hand therapists can teach joint protection exercises and activity modification to help protect joints. Anti-inflammatory medication or a steroid injection into the joint can decrease pain, but neither cures osteoarthritis.
Surgery is considered when the non-surgical options above have not helped. In most cases, you will tell your doctor when you are ready for surgery. The goal is to restore as much function as possible and to minimize your pain. One type of surgery is joint fusion. The worn cartilage is removed and the bones on each side of the joint are fused together, which means that the joint will not move but it will not hurt. Another choice is joint reconstruction, where the rough joint surface is removed and either replaced with your own soft tissue or with an implant. The type of surgery depends on the joint involved, your anatomy, and your activities. Your hand surgeon can help you decide which type of surgery is the best for you.
This content is written, edited and updated by hand surgeon members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.Find a hand surgeon near you.
For Hands And Fingers
There are a number of things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms. Once you meet with your doctor, they can make a diagnosis and help you develop a treatment plan suited to your needs.
You may also find relief by:
- massaging the affected areas
- applying a hot or cold compress to reduce swelling
- wearing hand splints to help stabilize and protect your wrist and fingers
- taking regular breaks when typing or writing
- performing hand and wrist exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles
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Treatment For Thumb Arthritis
Osteoarthritis in the thumb is the most common form of arthritis that affects the hands. Osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. It can affect the basal joint, which is the joint near the wrist and the fleshy part of the thumb. This joint normally allows you to pinch, pivot, and swivel your thumb for hundreds of tasks every day.
In people with thumb arthritis, the cushion-like cartilage inside the joint breaks down over time. This causes the bone to rub against bone. Symptoms of thumb arthritis can become crippling, partly because the thumb is needed so often each day. Decreased grip strength, decreased range of motion, and swelling and pain throughout your hand may occur. You may find it difficult to open jars, twist open a doorknob, or even snap your fingers.
If you have arthritis in other joints like your knees, hips, or elbows, it may make thumb arthritis more likely. Women are more prone to thumb arthritis, especially those with very flexible or lax thumb ligaments. Statistically, women are more likely than men to develop thumb arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another type of arthritis that can develop in the basal joint.
Arthritis is different in each individual. There are a variety of treatments that may work for your particular symptoms.
Initial treatment options involve:
- steroid injections
If these methods do not relieve pain and improve function, the joint may need to be reconstructed with surgery.
How Is Hand Osteoarthritis Diagnosed
It’s often possible for your doctor to diagnose osteoarthritis of the hand from your symptoms and a simple examination, without any need for tests. Although x-rays will show changes in the shape or structure of the joint, they’re often not needed to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests are sometimes helpful if there’s any doubt about whether it’s osteoarthritis or another type of arthritis that’s causing your symptoms.
Sometimes gout can affect the hands and this can look very much like osteoarthritis. If your doctor thinks it may be gout then they’ll want to check your urate levels through a blood test. Urate is a waste product which is normally flushed out of the body through the kidneys. But if it builds up it can form crystals in the joints, leading to sever pain and swelling.
It’s less common for the joints where your fingers meet your hand to be affected by osteoarthritis, so if you have pain and swelling in these joints your doctor may ask for blood tests to check for rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the hands and may look similar to osteoarthritis. There are no blood tests et present for psoriatic arthritis, but this type of arthritis is linked to the skin condition psoriasis. Your doctor may therefore ask if you or anyone in your family have a history of skin problems.
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The Diagnosis Of Osteoarthritis
When diagnosing osteoarthritis, your doctor will ask you about your hands and other joints. Explain how your symptoms affect what you do. Your doctor will check how your hands look and function. X-rays of joints with osteoarthritis can show loss of normal joint space, bone spurs, or other changes.
When To See A Doctor
Hand and wrist pain often gets better with things you can do at home.
However, youll need to visit your GP surgery if:
- your pain isnt getting better after treatment at home for two weeks
- the pain is getting worse
- the pain keeps returning
- the pain is stopping you from doing your everyday activities
- your hands are stiff and swollen, particularly in the mornings and these feelings dont get better after half an hour
- as well as being swollen and stiff, your hands are warm and red
- you also feel generally unwell, especially if you have a high temperature
- you have ongoing tingling, numbness or weakness in the hands or fingers.
Its important to get urgent medical attention, if:
- you think youve broken a bone
- you have extreme pain
- any part of your hand, wrist or fingers is a funny shape or colour
- you have lost the feeling of part or all of your hand
- there was a snap, grinding or popping noise when you injured your hand or wrist
- you cant move your hand, wrist or fingers properly.
If you have ongoing hand and wrist pain or a specific condition affecting the hand and wrist it could be helpful to see a hand therapist. These are healthcare professionals with expertise in treating conditions affecting the hand and wrist. Your GP, rheumatology department or orthopaedic department could refer you to one.
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Staying Physically Active Despite Hand Arthritis
Your doctor will tell you and probably has already that staying physically active is an important part of managing arthritis. In fact, according to a study of 5,715 adults with arthritis over age 65, a lack of regular, vigorous physical activity doubled the risk of functional decline. In other words, the less physically active the participants were, the more likely they were to become disabled.
Of course, despite data showing that physical activity helps people with arthritis become stronger and more flexible, anyone with arthritis will tell you that sometimes pain or stiffness makes it hard to get going, let alone lift weights at the gym. People with arthritis often give up activities they think of as optional, such as exercising or gardening, in order to have enough energy for the activities they feel obligated to do, such as cleaning the house. One study found that only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women with arthritis met federal guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.
If symptoms of arthritis in your hands or elsewhere are preventing you from participating in the physical activities you used to enjoy and that are good for you it may be time to find new ways to be active. For example, you may want to experiment with water activities such as swimming, or try tai chi, dance, or walking .
Hand Osteoarthritis Home Remedies
These home treatments can help:
- Exercises. Your doctor or physical therapist can show you what to do to improve strength and range of motion and to ease pain.
- Assistive devices. Special pens, kitchen utensils, and other tools with big grips may be easier to use.
- Ice or heat. Ice may reduce swelling and pain. Heat, like a warm washcloth or a paraffin bath, can loosen stiff joints.
- Skin treatments. Medicated creams can give relief when you rub them on sore joints. Gels with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also help.
- Supplements. Many people take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for OA. Researchers are still looking into whether they help. Ask your doctor if they’re OK to try.
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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
Why Am I Getting Lumps On My Fingers
Lumps and bumps of the fingers and hand causes Some of the most common causes of finger lumps and wrist lumps include: Bouchards nodesbony growths near the middle finger joints due to osteoarthritis. Ganglion cysta cyst or hard lump forming from joints or tendons. Carpal bossa mass of bone on the back of the hand.
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Is It Arthritis In My Hand Or Tendonitis
Arthritis and tendonitis can mimic each other, so its important to understand the difference between the two. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons in your hand due to an injury or repetitive motion, and the pain can come and go suddenly or last for a few days.
Arthritis, however, is inflammation of the joint due to degenerative joint disease. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis , when the protective cartilage in the joint breaks down, and rheumatoid arthritis , when immune system attacks the joints. Early symptoms of arthritis include painful hand joints, burning sensation and decreased functionality of the hand and/or wrist.
Hand Osteoarthritis Causes And Risk Factors
Osteoarthritis was once thought to happen because of wear and tear on your joints. Doctors now know thereâs more to the story.
On the ends of your bones, there’s a layer of smooth material called cartilage. It helps cushion your joints and allows them to slide easily. But over time, the cartilage gets worn down. The bones rub against each other, causing the symptoms of OA. The wear and tear can also cause other tissues in the joint to make inflammatory cells, which damage it more.
Certain things can make you more likely to have hand OA:
- Age. The older you are, the higher your odds.
- Sex. Compared with men, women are twice as likely to get it.
- Ethnicity. Rates are lower in African Americans.
- Weight. Thinner people are less likely to get it than those who have obesity.
- Injuries. This includes broken and dislocated bones.
- Changes in your genes. Your parents might have passed down a higher chance of OA.
- Joint problems. This includes infections, loose ligaments, overuse, and joints that arenât aligned the way they should be.
What causes flare-ups?
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