Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Management
While the overall goal of rheumatoid arthritis therapy is to prevent disease progression and further joint damage, pain management is a necessary daily practice for patients, in order to maximize their quality of life. Chronic pain can adversely affect a patients ability to work, participate in physical and social activities, and can generally interrupt day-to-day life.
Despite medications and aggressive forms of treatment, many rheumatoid arthritis patients experience ongoing pain and stiffness. The reality is, it may never completely go away. But there are specific things patients can do to manage pain and limit its impact on their lives.
Also Check: What Is The Rheumatoid Arthritis Blood Test
Arthritis And Heart Disease
Learn how having arthritis can affect heart health and what you can do to protect yourself.
Youre probably all too aware of how arthritis affects your joints. But having arthritis osteoarthritis , but especially inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis , gout, lupus and psoriatic arthritis also puts you at increased risk for heart disease. That includes heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation , high blood pressure, heart failure, and atherosclerosis .
Those with gout are also at greater risk for a heart attack or of dying from cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Gout was linked to a 15% higher risk for heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease in a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
People with OA face a 24% higher risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a meta-analysis of 15 studies that included nearly 360,000 people. The authors say shared heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and diabetes, along with inactivity and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , may be behind the increased risk. Another important contributor to heart disease is inflammation that can come with OA.
Chronic Inflammation and Your Heart
Inflammatory cells get into blood vessel walls where they make cytokines immune system proteins that promote inflammation. Inflammation also reshapes blood-vessel walls, making deposited plaques more prone to rupture. A rupture, in turn, can trigger a heart attack.
Top 5 Things You Can Do To Help Relieve Arthritis In The Hands
If you have joint stiffness, joint swelling or pain with movement in your hands, there is a good chance that you may have arthritis. The bones in your hands are protected by cartilage, which can eventually wear down over time and cause a condition called osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis is also known as wear and tear arthritis and it is normally caused by age, repetitive joint movement and trauma. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is the result of an autoimmune condition, can also affect the hands. While there is no cure for arthritis, here are the top 5 things that you can do to help relieve the painful symptoms of arthritis in the hands:
Don’t Miss: Rheumatoid Arthritis Medicine Side Effects
Treatment Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treatment is designed to relieve pain and restore function. If you have rheumatoid arthritis in your hands, medications can help decrease inflammation, relieve pain and slow the progression of the disease. Anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroids, and/or cortisone injections may be used. Several disease-modifying treatments are now available, including anti-malarial drugs, methotrexate, cyclosporine, gold, and other new drugs that help suppress the bodys immune system to reduce the inflammation and pain. A rheumatologist will often prescribe and monitor these types of medications. Your physician may also refer you to a hand therapist for exercises, splints, treatments such as paraffin baths, and instruction on how to use your hands in ways that may help relieve pain and pressure and also protect your joints. Adaptive devices may help you cope with the activities of daily living.
Surgery to treat the arthritic joints includes removal of inflamed joint linings, joint replacements, joint fusions, and in some cases, removal of damaged bone. The specific procedure depends on a variety of factors, including the particular joint involved, the degree of damage present, the condition of adjacent joints, and your own needs. Your hand surgeon can help you decide on the most appropriate treatment for you.
Bromelain A Natural Anti
Bromelain is an enzyme with proteolytic action. Its extracted from the fruit or the stem of the pineapple. It stands out for its anti-inflammatory, circulatory and immunomodulatory properties.
For that reason, bromelain is effective in preventing and relieving rheumatoid arthritis. Research shows that it can help to significantly reduce inflammation.
Therefore, you can take a bromelain supplement to help prevent arthritis in your hands. It can also help to relieve discomfort, such as pain and inflammation, if you already suffer from it. This will help you avoid having to take anti-inflammatory drugs and having to suffer from their side effects.
Read Also: Can Arthritis Cause A Rash
Breath In Fragrant Spices
Pleasant aromas like lavender can alter the perception of pain, studies show. Japanese researchers found that lavender reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you feel relaxed and less aware of pain. But lavender isnt the only pleasant aroma that works as a natural home remedy for arthritis pain relief. Korean researchers found that arthritis patients experienced less pain and were less depressed when they were exposed to the aromas of a variety of kitchen spices, including marjoram, rosemary, and peppermint. For a pain-soothing aromatherapy treatment, add a teaspoon of one of these dried herbs to a quarter-cup of olive, coconut, or vegetable oil. Take a whiff periodically. Dont miss these other soothing essential oils for arthritis pain relief.
Up Your Calcium Intake
Getting too little calcium raises the risk of osteoporosis, a brittle-bone condition that accelerates if you have RA. Men and women should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, 1,200 for women over 50 and men over 70. Dairy is the most famous source of calcium, but its also found in such veggies as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, and turnip greens. Here are 11 foods with more calcium than a glass of milk.
You May Like: Mayo Clinic Arthritis Treatment
Tips For Dealing With Arthritis Pain In Your Hands
Arthritis in the hands in a painful condition.
Arthritis, though a normal part of aging, is nonetheless uncomfortable at best and extremely painful at worst. While it may be frustrating to deal with this condition and its symptoms day after day, you are not helpless. In addition to medical treatment, there are also natural ways that you can work through some of the pain.
If you are living with arthritis pain in your hands, try these five tips for relief:
1. Limit movementOne of the simplest ways to limit the pain caused by arthritis is to identify the movements that make the symptoms worse and put a pause on activities that require those activities, at least for the short term. A doctor may recommend wearing a splint for a while to help immobilize the area that’s causing you pain.
2. Use ice and heatHot and cold may be opposites, but both can provide arthritis pain relief.
“An ice massage can do wonders for pain caused by physical activity,” Scott Burg, DO wrote for Cleveland Clinic. “Take a piece of ice and rub it in a circular motion over your painful joint. Just don’t do it for more than five minutes at a time so you don’t irritate your skin. You can use an ice pack with a cover, too.”
For heat, Burg recommended soaking your painful extremities in warm water.
4. Exercise your handsThere are a number of hand exercises that can provide relief from arthritis pain in the hands. For example, Mayo Clinic recommends the following stretch:
Hand Osteoarthritis Causes And Risk Factors
Osteoarthritis was once thought to happen because of wear and tear on your joints. Doctors now know thereÃ¢s more to the story.
On the ends of your bones, thereâs 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 arenÃ¢t aligned the way they should be.
What causes flare-ups?
Donât Miss: What Foods Should You Eat If You Have Arthritis
Also Check: Arthritis Flare Up In Wrist
How Arthritis Of The Hand Is Diagnosed
Your doctor will examine you and determine whether you have similar symptoms in other joints and assess the impact of the arthritis on your life and activities. The clinical appearance of the hands and fingers helps to diagnose the type of arthritis. X-rays will also show certain characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis, such as narrowing of the joint space, swelling and diminished bone density near the joints, and erosions of the bone. If your doctor suspects rheumatoid arthritis, he or she may request blood or other lab tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Arthritis In Your Hands
Arthritis in your hands can affect the joints between the 29 bones of the hands and wrists. Pain in this part of the body often makes daily activities difficult.
The most common forms are osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Here are some tips to help prevent osteoarthritis and to also help relieve the pain if you already suffer from it.
You May Like: Can You Get Rid Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
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.
Relief For Hand Arthritis
There’s more to optimizing care than pain medication. See a hand therapist to obtain a personalized strategy.
Wear-and-tear osteoarthritis is very common in the knees and hips, but it strikes the hands, too. When the cushioning cartilage within the finger joints begins to break down, leading to pain and inflammation, all the usual remedies apply, such as appropriate use of medication.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Don’t Miss: Rheumatoid Arthritis Flare Up After Surgery
Symptoms Of Arthritis In Hands And Fingers
While not everyone with arthritis in the joints in hands will experience all of these symptoms and some people may not even have anysymptoms at all, below are some common symptoms for hand arthritis:
- Joint pain. This is initially experienced as a dull, burning sensation after a particularly busy day. As arthritisadvances, the pain becomes sharper and more constant, even occurring at rest.
- Joint stiffness. This is common in the morning but also occurs after a long day of work or activity involving the hands
- Crepitus. This is a grinding, grating feeling or a crunchy sound in the hands or wrists on movement.
- Weakness. It can begin to get difficult to grasp an object or maintain a strong grip or pinch.
- Warmth or redness. It is common to feel warmth or redness where the joint, ligaments or tissues have become inflamed.
- Swelling. Swollen joints in fingers, hands and thumbs are very common and can lead to a puffier appearance.
- Loss of movement. Particularly as arthritis progresses, you may notice loss of movement in the affected joints.
- Joint shape. You may notice changes in joint shape, or a slight turn in the direction of a finger or thumb.This is usually caused by uneven wearing of cartilage or weakness surrounding tissues or ligaments.
- Knobbly or crooked fingers. Bone spurs can give a knobbly or crooked appearance to fingers and thumbs, and in some casescan also reduce the function of fingers or thumbs.
Dont Miss: Arthritis Pain In Hands Relief
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
Read Also: How Can I Slow Down Arthritis In My Hands
Nutritional Supplements And Dietary Changes
There’s no strong evidence to suggest that specific dietary changes can improve rheumatoid arthritis, although some people with rheumatoid arthritis feel their symptoms get worse after they have eaten certain foods.
If you think this may be the case for you, it may be useful to try avoiding problematic foods for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve.
But it’s important to ensure your overall diet is still healthy and balanced. A Mediterranean-style diet, which is based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil, is recommended.
There’s also little evidence supporting the use of supplements in rheumatoid arthritis, although some can be useful in preventing side effects of medicines you may be taking.
There’s some evidence to suggest that taking fish oil supplements may help reduce joint pain and stiffness caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
- National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society : diet and rheumatoid arthritis
Page last reviewed: 28 August 2019 Next review due: 28 August 2022
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.
Read Also: Rheumatoid Arthritis Article
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.
Why Go To A Hand Specialist For Arthritis
Painful and swollen hands are the first signs of arthritis. Arthritis can affect any part of your body, even the joints in your hands. It can make simple tasks like holding up a glass or mug, brushing your teeth, or turning a doorknob difficult.
While there is no cure for arthritis, you can manage symptoms and slow down the degeneration of your joints. Arthritis sufferers who get treatment and guidance from orthopedic doctors can live normal lives despite their condition.
An orthopedic hand specialist is trained and knowledgeable in various treatments that can ease the symptoms of arthritis in the hands and wrists. A hand specialist who is also a hand surgeon can perform surgical procedures that can help repair damaged joints and tendons in the hand due to arthritis.
Recommended Reading: High Rheumatoid Levels