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- This mug is specifically designed for people with weak grip.
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- It is made with a very strong polycarbonate material that makes sure the mug is sturdy and can withstand slips and falls.
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Who Should Diagnose And Treat Ra
A doctor or a team of doctors who specialize in care of RA patients should diagnose and treat RA. This is especially important because the signs and symptoms of RA are not specific and can look like signs and symptoms of other inflammatory joint diseases. Doctors who specialize in arthritis are called rheumatologists, and they can make the correct diagnosis. To find a provider near you, visit the database of rheumatologistsexternal icon on the American College of Rheumatology website.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Your Hands
Many joints are covered with a lining called the synovium, which lubricates the joint so it moves more easily. When you have rheumatoid arthritis, the synovium becomes inflamed, thickens, and produces an excess of joint fluid. This is known as synovitis. That extra fluid along with the inflammatory chemicals released by the immune system causes swelling, damages cartilage, and softens the bone within the joint. The swollen tissue may stretch the surrounding ligaments, resulting in deformity and instability, according to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. The inflammation may also weaken and damage tendons. Ligaments are connective tissues that join two bones tendons are connective issues that join muscle to bone.
When RA strikes the hand, it is most common in the wrist and finger knuckles more specifically the MCP joint, or the large knuckle where the fingers and thumb meet the hand, and the PIP joint, or middle knuckle, explains Jemima Albayda, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.
The first knuckle at the top of the finger closest to the nails the DIP, or distal interphalangeal joint is generally spared in RA. In the wrist, RA often affects the joint between the two bones of the forearm, the radius and ulna.
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Treatment Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis continues to improve, which can give many people relief from symptoms, improving their quality of life. Doctors may use the following options to treat RA:
- Routine monitoring and ongoing care.
- Complementary therapies.
Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments, which may change over time based on your symptoms and the severity of your disease. No matter which treatment plan your doctor recommends, the goals are to help:
- Prevent, slow, or stop joint and organ damage.
- Improve your ability to participate in daily activities.
Rheumatoid arthritis may start causing joint damage during the first year or two that a person has the disease, so early diagnosis and treatment are very important.
Watch Our Video About What Rheumatoid Arthritis Is
Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in joints.
It is what is known as an auto-immune condition. This means that the immune system, which is the bodys natural self-defence system, gets confused and starts to attack your bodys healthy tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the main way it does this is with inflammation in your joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 adults aged 16 and over in the UK. It can affect anyone of any age. It can get worse quickly, so early diagnosis and intensive treatment are important. The sooner you start treatment, the more effective its likely to be.
To understand how rheumatoid arthritis develops, it helps to understand how a normal joint works.
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Physical And Occupational Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis
An occupational therapist can teach you how to modify your home and workplace and better navigate your surroundings to effectively reduce strain on your joints and prevent further aggravation of the inflammation during your day-to-day activities. Additionally, they can teach you how to perform regular tasks in different ways to better protect your joints.
They’ll teach you joint protection techniques, such as how to maintain proper body position and posture, body mechanics for specific daily functions, and how to distribute pressure to minimize stress on individual joints.
Occupational and physical therapists can also teach you about the hand exercises that are best for you.
How Does Joint Pain In Hands And Fingers Affect Members
The symptoms of RA in hands and fingers significantly disrupt myRAteam members daily lives in many ways. Many members report that this type of arthritis makes it hard to grip, pinch, or squeeze things with their hands. Its frustrating to not be able to turn a doorknob, open jars, or lift heavy cookware, said one member. I need both hands to balance a coffee mug, explained another. I cant hold onto my pills without dropping them, said another.
Loss of hand function can also be dangerous. Members say theyve dropped a cup of coffee or lost control of a pot of hot water. One member said, I was changing the toilet paper roll and, because my hands don’t work, the holder shot out of my hand and popped me in the eye!
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Physical Therapy And Exercise
Regular physical activity is an important piece of your overall treatment plan. It can help preserve range of motion in your joints and strengthen the muscles that support them.
Many people with RA benefit from working with an experienced physical therapist . A PT can create a strength and mobility program for you and show you how to move in ways that will help and won’t cause further damage. A physical therapist can also teach you pain relief techniques and prescribe splints and braces to support damaged joints.
In addition to exercises prescribed by a physical therapist, there are many activities you can do on your own to maintain or improve joint mobility, build muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular system and promote general health and well-being. The right form of activity for you depends not only on which joints are affected and the severity of your disease, but also on your interests. The best exercises are those you enjoy enough to do regularly. Popular and safe options for people with RA include walking, swimming, water exercise, low-impact aerobics and stationary cycling.
You should speak with your doctor before beginning any new exercise plan.
Modifications To Reduce Strain
Making modifications around your home or to your routine can help take some of the strain away from your hand. Examples include carrying bags on your forearms rather than in your hands and using ergonomic tools that are more comfortable to grip.
Your doctor may refer you to an occupational therapist, who will be able to help you to find ways to reduce the daily strain on your hands.
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Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Research shows that people who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. They also enjoy a better quality of life.
Self-care can help you play a role in managing your RA and improving your health. You can:
- Learn about rheumatoid arthritis and its treatments.
- Use exercises and relaxation techniques to reduce your pain and help you stay active.
- Communicate well with your health care team so you can have more control over your disease.
- Reach out for support to help cope with the physical emotional, and mental effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
Participating in your care can help build confidence in your ability to perform day-to-day activities, allowing you to lead a full, active, and independent life.
Check In With Your Doc
RA has come a long way! Treatments have dramatically improved over the last two decadesif youre newly or recently-diagnosed, you should be able to live essentially symptom-free. So if youre struggling, you might need to switch meds. Our goal in 2020 with rheumatoid arthritis is that you should never know someone has it because theyre doing so well, says Jonathan Samuels, M.D., a rheumatologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
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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 For Your Thumbs
Your doctor or a physical therapist may recommend hand exercises. You can do these exercises to improve range of motion and improve your arthritis symptoms.
Simple exercises can include a thumb stretch, in which you attempt to touch the tip of your thumb to just under your pinky finger.
Another stretch, called IP, uses flexion. It requires you to hold your thumb stable with your other hand and attempt to bend just the upper part of the thumb. And an additional exercise is to simply touch the tips of each of your fingers to the tip of your thumb.
You should only do these exercises after consulting with your doctor or physical therapist. And be sure to get instructions to make sure youre doing the movements correctly.
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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed
You can manage rheumatoid arthritis by taking medicines as prescribed to treat pain and joint inflammation. You can also help reduce symptoms by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. This can be at one time or broken up into shorter sessions.
You may also need to make changes at home to help you manage daily tasks like cleaning or gardening. An occupational therapist can help you make adjustments if pain or joint stiffness makes certain tasks hard to complete. They can recommend tools to reduce strain on your joints, such as long-handled dustpans so you dont need to bend over, or book holders to reduce the strain on your hands and wrists.
You might find that rheumatoid arthritis makes you frustrated and upset. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause poor sleep, which can also make you feel down. Discus your feelings with friends and family and explain to them what they can do to support you. This may help you feel better and reassured that help is available, if needed. If you are struggling with a low mood or not managing to sleep, your doctor will be able to support you and work with you to build a plan to help.
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.
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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.
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Can I Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis
You cannot prevent rheumatoid arthritis because the cause of the disease is not known.
Quitting smoking, or never smoking, will reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. You are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis if someone in your close family has it, but unfortunately there is no way to reduce this risk.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis often experience flare ups, which are times when their joints are particularly sore. Learning what triggers your flare ups can help reduce or prevent them.
For some people, stress can trigger a flare up, so can being run down or pushing yourself beyond your limits. Having an infection, missing a dose of your medicine or changing your treatment plan can also cause a flare up.
Keeping a food and activity diary may help work out your personal triggers but keep in mind that sometimes flare ups happen without any obvious cause.
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How Does A Normal Joint Work
A joint is where two bones meet. Most of our joints are designed to allow the bones to move in certain directions and within certain limits.
For example, the knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complicated. It must be strong enough to take our weight and must lock into position, so we can stand upright.
It also has to act as a hinge, so we can walk, and needs to twist and turn when we run or play sports.
The end of each bone is covered with cartilage that has a very smooth, slippery surface. The cartilage allows the ends of the bones to move against each other, almost without rubbing.
The joint is held in place by the synovium, which contains thick fluid to protect the bones and joint.
The synovium has a tough outer layer that holds the joint in place and stops the bones moving too far.
Strong cords called tendons anchor the muscles to the bones.
What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The joints most often affected by RA are in the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows. The disease often causes inflammation in the same areas on both sides of the body. Symptoms may begin suddenly or slowly over time. Each persons symptoms may vary, and may include:
These symptoms can seem like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hands
Early symptoms include:
- Dull or burning joint pain, appearing hours or a day after increased use of your hands.
- Morning pain and stiffness in your hand.
- Swollen joints in your hand.
If you’ve had arthritis in your hand for some time:
- Symptoms are present more often.
- Pain may change from dull ache to sharp pain.
- Pain may wake you up at night.
- Pain may cause you to change the way you use your hand.
- Tissue surrounding your affected joint may become red and tender to the touch.
- Youll feel grating, grinding, cracking or clicking when bending your fingers.
- Your fingers cant fully open and close.
- Small bony nodules form on the middle joint of your fingers or at the top joints of your fingers .
- Your finger joints become large and deformed and abnormally bent, leaving your hands weak and less able to accomplish everyday tasks.
Watch: Getting Started On Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications
This video is part of an educational project from researchers at Yale University, Berkshire Medical Center, Carnegie Mellon University, Hospital for Special Surgery, CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation, and ArthritisPower. It was made possible with support from the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Watch more videos from this series here.
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Key Points About Rheumatoid Arthritis
- RA is a long-term that causes joint inflammation.
- RA can also affect many nonjoint areas such as the lungs, heart, skin, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and kidneys.
- RA may cause deformities in the joints of the finger, making movement difficult.
- The joints most often affected by RA are in the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows.
- Symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling decreased and painful movement bumps over small joints and fatigue or fever.
Signs And Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand
Stiffness, swelling, and pain are symptoms common to all forms of arthritis in the hand. In rheumatoid arthritis, some joints may be more swollen than others. There is often a sausage-shaped swelling of the finger. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the hand include:
- A soft lump over the back of the hand that moves with the tendons that straighten the fingers
- A creaking sound during movement
- A shift in the position of the fingers as they drift away from the direction of the thumb
- Swelling and inflammation of the tendons that bend the fingers, resulting in clicking or triggering of the finger as it bends, and sometimes causing numbness and tingling in the fingers
- Rupture of tendons with loss of ability to straighten or bend certain fingers or the thumb
- Unstable joints in the wrist, fingers, and thumb
- Deformity in which the middle joint of the finger becomes bent and the end joint hyperextended
- Hyperextension at the middle joint of the finger associated with a bent fingertip
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