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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Basal Thumb Arthritis
Because your CMC joint enables your thumb to swivel, pivot, grip and pinch, basal thumb arthritis causes pain when making just about any thumb motion. Tasks such as opening a jar or turning a key can be especially painful. Common symptoms of basal thumb arthritis include:
- Pain or loss of strength when gripping or pinching
- Swelling or tenderness around the joint
- Limited range of motion in the thumb
- Aching or discomfort after prolonged use
Simple Ways To Manage Hand Osteoarthritis
When osteoarthritis affects your hands, everyday activities such as opening jars and using a cell phone can be difficult. Arthritic joints in the hands or wrists may be painful, stiff, and weaker than normal. Thankfully, there are many ways to help manage this condition.
Osteoarthritis in the hand or wrist joints can make it hard to open jars or grip objects. SeeRecognizing Osteoarthritis in the Hand
Read on to learn 5 simple strategies for coping with osteoarthritic pain in the hand.
Reducing Or Modifying Movement Of The Thumb
Some with thumb arthritis may experience a reduction of symptoms by resting their thumb regularly since the use of the thumb can aggravate damage and inflammation. Your physician may recommend wearing a supportive splint to reduce motion of the thumb and allow the joint to heal. Splints may be worn just at night or during the day and night. In addition, some may benefit from using adaptive equipment that is designed for people with limited hand strength to complete everyday activities.
Where Does Your Thumb Hurt
Thumb joint problems can make every day activities challenging. To discover whats causing your thumb pain its important to understand where on your thumb it hurts, when you feel the pain and how often you feel it. The following information can help you learn why your thumb hurts and give you answers on what to do about it.
Start by answering the question Where Does It Hurt? in the charts below. Initial treatment generally begins with immobilizing your thumb with a splint or brace to help limit your motion and rest your joints and tendons. In most cases, it is best to treat the condition early, with simple measures. The earlier the treatment is started, the better the chances that your pain can be relieved. Dont wait to feel better.
Also Check: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Your Hands
Heat And Cold Modalities
Warmth is often effective in temporarily relieving the stiffness and pain of basal joint arthritis. Warm water or a heating pad can be used at home, being careful not to burn the skin. However, if the joint is swollen and inflamed, a cold pack is a better choice. An aspect of the therapists role is to educate individuals in the home use of these modalities.
How To Treat The Gripping Pain Of Thumb Arthritis
By , Hand Surgeon, Virtua Hand Surgery & Rehabilitation
You probably dont think about it, but your thumbs help you do many things like text, turn knobs, grip steering wheels and carry bags. Since you use your thumbs in nearly every hand movement, thumb pain can be especially disabling.
If you experience this pain, you may have arthritis at the base of your thumb, also called basal thumb arthritis. Whats key is that you dont have to just deal with it. This condition is treatable through conservative management, and in advanced cases, surgery.
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Basal Joint Arthritis Symptoms
Pain at the thumb is often the first basal joint arthritis symptom. The pain can occur in different forms. For some people, it will be a dull, constant ache in others it might be a sharp pain that only hits when you use the thumb, says Saakshi Khattri, MD, assistant professor of rheumatology and dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. The pain is most likely to hit when you pinch or strain the basal joint, like when zipping a jacket or opening a jar, she says.
There could be swelling at the base of the thumb too, and people with basal joint arthritis might also notice their thumb loses mobility and gets weaker the longer theyve been dealing with the pain. People try to avoid doing certain motions that stress that joint, says Dr. Khattri. With time, what you see is wasting of the muscle at the base of the thumb.
Healing Arthritis In Hands And Getting Back To Normal
Once you know what is causing your hand arthritis symptoms, you can start moving on getting rid of that arthritis in hands and fingers.
The arthritis hand pain mechanism is 100% reversible.
Having said that, if a certain amount of damage has been done, even with the arthritis mechanism removed, some or all of that damage may be irreversible .
And, mostly in the case of RA, once the bony structures of the joints change shape as the auto-immune process causes them to become deformed, there is no UN-deforming the bone.Bone shape changes are permanent.
So ideally you completely reverse your arthritis issue BEFORE you develop too much joint damage and/or your finger joints deform and change shape.
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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.
What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
- 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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Causes And Risk Factors
- Females are more susceptible than men
- Over 40 years of age
- Doing activities with repetitive stress
- Prior injury
- Sharp or burning pain when gripping or pinching
- Swelling, stiffness, and limited motion at base of thumb
- Lack of strength in grip and pinching activities
- Bone spurs/thickening around the base of the thumb
Injury To The Thumb Joints
Injuries to the thumb joints can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis because joints that have been damaged tend to generate more friction and are more prone to sustaining more damage. Therefore, people who have a history of multiple injuries to the thumb joints may develop osteoarthritis of the thumb at a younger age than they otherwise would have.
Also Check: How To Keep Arthritis From Spreading
Exercises That Help Relieve Arthritis In The Fingers And Hands
If someone is pain free, it is critical to keep joints in good range of motion. Simple shoulder shrugs, wrist, and finger range of motion exercises help keep joint range of motion, says physical therapist Charles J. Gulas, PT, PhD, GCS, dean of the School of Health Professions at Maryville University of St. Louis. Being pain free is the key, Gulas stresses, especially when doing exercises intended to build strength. When pain acts up, rest and pain management may be a better bet.
Try these range-of-motion exercises to keep your hands, fingers, and thumbs flexible and to ease symptoms of arthritis in the fingers and in the hands overall:
- Close your fist and then gradually open your hand, stretching your fingers out, then close slowly into a fist again.
- Make circle motions with your thumb, keeping it straight.
- Stretch your thumb away from the palm of your hand, then use it to touch each fingertip.
Repeat these exercises 3 to 10 times daily. Stop if you feel pain in a joint or if you’re experiencing additional pain once youre done. Some people find that doing these hand exercises under warm water is helpful. If you have osteoarthritis, you may need to wear a splint, wear a compression glove, or use another type of support to help reduce wear and tear on your joints during your daily activities. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist to recommend the type of device that may help you.
How Is Basal Thumb Arthritis Treated
If your doctor diagnoses you with early-stage basal thumb arthritis, he or she may recommend conservative treatment that includes:
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen
- Splinting, which restricts movement and allows the joint to heal
- Activity modification, such as avoiding certain repetitive movements or refraining from pinching small objects
If the pain doesnt improve with conservative treatment or worsens over time, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection into the joint. Steroid injections cant be repeated indefinitely, but may provide pain relief for several months. If steroid injections are no longer effective, your doctor may recommend basal thumb surgery.
Read Also: How To Ease Arthritis Pain In Fingers
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?
Are There Any Other Treatment Options Being Investigated
For osteoarthritis, some clinical research trials are underway in the U.S. exploring stem cell treatment. Early findings are encouraging. Stem cell therapy so far has shown to provide some pain relief and improvement in function. The ultimate goal would hopefully be to use stem cells to regrow cartilage.
Over the past decade, researchers developed many new medications for psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with more studies underway.
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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.
How Do I Know If The Pain In The Joint Of My Thumb Is Due To Osteoarthritis
Patients that present with thumb CMC OA often describe pain about the base of the thumb. The pain can be dull in nature, occasionally sharp and stabbing, and may occur regularly or intermittently. Activities that use a heavy grip or pinch activity, like opening a jar or opening a lock while holding a key, are often the trigger. The pain can range from a dull night time ache all the way to severe depending on a variety of factors. Patients also commonly have periods of normal use followed by days of debilitating discomfort. Most patients are surprised when an activity or motion they have done it a thousand times before becomes painful.
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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.
How Doctors Diagnose Arthritis Hand Pain
To determine whats behind your hand pain, your doctor will rely on your medical history, a physical exam, and imaging and blood tests to make a diagnosis and determine what kind of arthritis hand pain you have.
Feeling a patients joints during the exam can help differentiate between OA and inflammatory arthritis, Dr. Byram says. The swelling feels harder in those with OA because extra bone at the joints, called osteophytes, forms over time. The swelling in RA and other inflammatory disease feels softer.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, can reveal joint erosion and osteophytes and loss of cartilage .
If your doctor suspects inflammatory arthritis, they will also order blood tests to detect the presence of certain antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP, that help identify RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis.
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Common Causes Of Thumb Pain
|Oval-8 Finger Splint for Trigger Thumb|
While this information can be useful to help narrow down what your thumb problem might be, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a health care professional before beginning any treatment. Treating your symptoms with the wrong diagnosis can not only delay proper healing, it may also make your condition worse.
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.
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Hand Exercises To Ease Arthritis Pain
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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.