Treatments For Osteoarthritis In Hands
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis of the hand, patients and doctors can devise a treatment plan to relieve hand pain and restore function. Treatment plans usually involve a combination of therapies. It may require a little trial and error to figure out which therapies work best for an individual.
Read on to find out what treatments are available for hand arthritis, ranging from tips for relieving hand pain at home to hand surgery.
Who Gets Arthritis In Their Hands
You are more likely to get arthritis in your hands if:
- Youre older. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen after age 50. Rheumatoid arthritis typically first appears between the age of 35 and 50.
- Youre a woman.
- Youre white.
- Youre overweight.
- Youve had previous injuries to your hand. If youve dislocated or broken any joints in your hands or fingers, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
- You’ve inherited genes that cause the development of arthritis.
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 theyâre OK to try.
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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.
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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Treating Hand Arthritis At Home
Arthritis limits hand dexterity and makes everyday tasks more difficult. Described below are several ways people can help relieve stress on their hand joints and make some tasks easier.
Rest the hands periodicallyGive the joints and tendons in the hand a needed break. For example, people who type at a computer may need to take regular breaks or divide their work into regular intervals, working for just 2 or 3 hours at a time.
Apply heat A warm compress or paraffin wax hand bath can soothe affected joints. Applying heat to the hand warms up the synovial fluid that lubricates joints, easing stiffness, and improving flexibility.
Adapt when possible
A few simple lifestyle changes and products can reduce strain on the hands and minimize arthritis pain and swelling. For example:
- Wear coats and shirts with zippers instead of buttons.
- Use long zipper pulls, which are also larger than regular zipper pulls and therefore easier to grasp. Some specialized zipper pulls are made with looped cloth or nylon and allow the user to stick a finger through and pull up or down.
- Choose lightweight cooking and gardening tools that are easier to lift and hold.
- Buy slip-on shoes to avoid having to tie shoelaces.
In addition to making changes at home, people with arthritis may consider treatments recommended by their physician.
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.
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Is It Safe To Get The Covid
The short answer: Yes. Having rheumatoid arthritis is not a contraindication the vaccine. In fact, getting the vaccine when you have rheumatoid arthritis may be especially important, given the disease may put you at higher risk for COVID-19 or severe outcomes.
Many patients with autoimmune conditions who take medications that affect immune system function are concerned that certain vaccines could give them the virus. This could theoretically occur with vaccines like the MMR vaccine for measles and mumps, which is a live vaccine. That means it is a weakened form of the virus intended to cause a harmless infection that your immune system rapidly eliminates.
However, none of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are live vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine cannot infect you with coronavirus. It is safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis, including those who take immunosuppressant medication.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the only contraindications to receiving the COVID-19 are:
- Severe allergic reaction after a previous dose or to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose or known allergy to a component of the vaccine. See the ingredients in each vaccine here.
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How To Get Rid Of Arthritis In Fingers
Arthritis of the fingers can be quite uncomfortable, causing symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. These symptoms make hand motions like grasping and pinching difficult, which restricts a persons ability to perform everyday tasks. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two types of arthritis that most commonly affect the finger joints. Depending on which type of arthritis affects your finger joints, you may experience additional symptoms.
Thankfully, numerous remedies can help alleviate the discomfort from arthritis of the fingers, from hand exercises to help strengthen your fingers to over-the-counter and prescription pain medications and surgical treatments.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
Some telltale signs that arthritis has affected your hands include swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and joint pain of your wrists, hands, and fingers.
You should see a healthcare provider when:
- Home treatments arent helping. If you have tried ice, heat therapy, over-the-counter pain relievers, and rest without adequate relief, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your practitioner to determine the source of your hand symptoms.
- You have pain in multiple joints. Conditions like RA make several of your joints hurts. So, if you are experiencing pain in other joints, in addition to your hands, it is a good idea to call your healthcare provider and get in for an appointment.
- Your hand joints hurt a lot. If you have severe hand, finger, or wrist pain, this is another reason to call your practitioner.
- You have warmth and redness. Symptoms like redness and warmth are signs of inflammation in the joints and need to be checked out.
- You have gradual pain and stiffness. Any type of joint painwhether in your hands or elsewhere in your bodythat progresses slowly could be linked to an underlying medical illness
You Shouldnt Stress Daily Tasks Like Tying Your Shoes Or Using The Television Remote Because Of Arthritis Ease Hand Pain With These Finger And Hand Exercises For Arthritis
If you consider the countless number of times you need your hands to do things throughout the day, they may be one of the body parts you use most frequently. From brushing your teeth to tying your shoes to turning on and off a light switch, your hands and fingers are involved in so many steps of your daily routine. And if youre a hand talker, they get even more work during the day! But many of these simple tasks can become quite painful if you have arthritis in your hands.1
There are things you can do to help with the discomfort of hand arthritis. For starters, rub some Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel on your hands at the first sign of symptoms. Its the first and only OTC gel to contain an NSAID, a powerful medicine forjoint pain due to arthritis. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel helps you get a better grip on objectswhether its a paintbrush, hammer or shovelto tackle your next DIY project.
Hands exercises and stretches can also provide arthritis pain relief. Focus on using your hands and strengthening them to help reduce arthritis symptoms overall. How exactly? We asked industry experts Blake Dircksen, PT, DPT, CSCS, orthopedic physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy & Fitness in New York City, and Jordan Metzl, MD, sports medicine physician at Hospital For Special Surgery, to share their top picks for exercises that can help ease arthritis in the hands.
What Can I Do To Decrease Hand Arthritis Symptoms
Osetoarthritis involves degeneration of a joint or joints due to excessive wear and tear. While OA can affect joints throughout the body, it commonly affects those in the hand. People with hand OA often report feeling generalized pain and morning stiffness in the joints. In regard to appearance, people with hand OA often have enlarged knuckles and excessive bone growth on the sides of the fingers.
Although hand arthritis symptoms may be quite severe, there are many simple remedies that can help one decrease pain and stiffness.
Use Proper Desk Posture While Typing
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How Are The Hands And Wrists Structured
There are 27 small bones that make up each hand and wrist. Eight of those bones are in your wrist. Each finger has three bones, and the thumb has two. There are five bones in the palm of your hand, connecting each finger and the thumb with the wrist.
There are more than 30 muscles that control the hand and wrist. These are in your hands, wrists and forearms.
Muscles are attached to bones by tendons. These are small but very tough pieces of connective tissue. Tendons pass through a bony passage in your wrist, known as the carpal tunnel. The median nerve also passes through this tunnel.
Arthritis In Hands And Fingers
The process of osteoarthritis is complex. It affects bone, cartilage, soft tissue, and the connective tissue in your joints.
Osteoarthritis wears away the articular cartilage in a joint. Cartilage is the cushioning material between bones. This wearing away can cause swelling and irritation of the synovial lining, which produces the synovial fluid that helps protect and lubricate the joint.
When osteoarthritis affects the joints of your hands or fingers, it can cause:
- joint deformity
The pain can get worse whenever you use your hand 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. This weakness can make it hard to do everyday tasks, such as opening jars.
Some medication options may help treat hand arthritis. For example, you can take oral pain-relieving medications.
You can also get steroid injections in your joints or splint your hands to give them support. If these options dont work, surgery may help to reduce pain.
Home treatments can also help to reduce the pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis in your hands and fingers.
Hand and finger exercises can be a noninvasive way to:
- keep your joints flexible
- improve range of motion
- relieve arthritis pain
Hand exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the hand joints. This can help you perform hand movements with less discomfort.
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How Is Arthritis In The Hand Treated
Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, stage of arthritis, how many joints are affected, your age, activity level, the hand affected and other existing medical conditions.
Goals of treatment are to:
- Improve mobility and function.
- Increase your quality of life.
- In the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment options include splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.
Splits or braces support and protect the affected joint, reduce deformity, provide joint stability, lessen strain, and promote proper joint alignment. Your healthcare provider, occupational therapist or hand therapist will discuss splinting/bracing options, how and when to wear them and how long to wear them .
Steroids reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Steroids are usually used if medications dont control inflammation or if the inflammation is limited to a few joints. Injections are administered directly into the affected joint. Because steroids can weaken tendons and ligaments, injections are repeated only a few times.
Other management strategies
A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
If nonsurgical treatments no longer provide relief and the cartilage at the ends of your bones has worn away, surgery may be an option. There are several approaches:
How Do I Manage Arthritis At Home
There are some things you can do at home that might help if youve been diagnosed with arthritis in hands and feet. For example, your doctor may suggest that you make lifestyle changes. This means eating a healthy diet and getting a good nights sleep. Taking a warm bath before you go to bed and avoiding caffeine at night could help.
If your doctor suggests moving around, staying as active as possible can make the muscles that support your joints stronger, helping you maintain your range of motion. Exercise can also help you lose weight, which could take some of the pressure off of certain joints.1
Always talk to your doctor before making any lifestyle changes, and follow their advice.
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These Nonsurgical Solutions Will Enhance Daily Activities And Independence
Hand pain is more than just annoying. The stiffness and swelling that go along with hand pain can sap strength and diminish the ability to carry out routine functions, like buttoning clothes.
One common cause of hand pain is osteoarthritiswhen the shock-absorbing cartilage between bones in the finger joints and at the base of the thumb becomes worn or damaged. Hand pain can also result from nerve conditions, like the pain and tingling you feel when there is pressure on the median nerve in the wrist or the ulnar nerve near the elbow. Sometimes hand pain results from tendinitis, an inflammation of the tissue that attaches muscles to the bones. Here are five methods to help manage hand pain, retain hand function, and avoid surgery.
A splint stabilizes the position of your fingers, thumb, or wrist. Wear a splint for a few weeks if arthritis flares, so the inflammation can settle down, says Dr. Philip Blazar, an orthopedic surgeon and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
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Should I Exercise My Hands
Dont be afraid to use your hands. Regular exercise is important in reducing stiffness and keeping your joints and muscles working. Try to make sure you move any affected joints in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists as far as is comfortable several times a day. You could also see an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for specific hand exercises.
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How Are Wrists And Hands Affected By Arthritis
Any joint in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists can be affected by arthritis. Many different types of arthritis can affect your hands and cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness. People with hand arthritis often find their grip weakens and it becomes harder to do fine movements, such as turning a key or tying shoelaces.
Find out about aids and equipment that can make everyday tasks easier. Learn ways to protect your hands and manage your symptoms.