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Arthritis in Hands Treatment
02 Sep

Arthritis in Hands Treatment

Are you experiencing constant pain in your hand and fingers? Particularly in the joints? Then there is a chance you may have developed arthritis in your hands. 

There are two types of arthritis that can happen in your hands and it is not always easy to distinguish between the two:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – This is caused by wear and tear on the joints;  and  
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – This is caused by an inflammation of the joints and is an autoimmune condition. 

Both types of arthritis cause pain, swelling, tenderness and joint stiffness, especially in the mornings. 

OA is the most common type of arthritis and it usually comes hand-in-hand with getting older. Over time the cartilage that cushions your joints starts to degenerate causing the two bones that form a joint to rub against each other. This leads to the symptoms of pain and inflammation. 

Facts on hand arthritis:

  • More common in women than men;
  • There is no cure but symptoms can be relieved;
  • It can be genetic;
  • More common in >60 years of age;
  • OA can be caused by post-trauma in sports or car accidents.

Osteoarthritis symptoms: 

  • Bony lumps at the middle finger joints; 
  • Bony lumps at the finger joint closest to the fingernail;  
  • Pain deep under the base of the thumb; 
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning;  
  • Difficulty pinching and gripping items. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms: 

  • Pain at the wrist and finger knuckles;  
  • Deformities of the wrist and fingers (not able to straighten); 
  • Tendon ruptures (not able to straighten fingers); 
  • Unexplained fatigue; 
  • Achiness throughout the body (similar to the flu). 

Arthritis In Hands Treatment

In order to ease the pain in your hands there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Keep warm – arthritis tends to get worse during the cold season. Make sure you stay warm and wear gloves during the winter. 
  • Keep moving – Nothing makes stiff joints worse than avoiding movement. It is important to keep your wrist and fingers moving properly and keep tendons and ligaments flexible. 
  • Hand exercises – Exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist, especially an arthritis physio specialist,  can help strengthen the muscles that support the hand joints. It can also help keep the joints flexible and improve range of motion. 
    • Example of some exercises are:
      • Make a fist 
      • Finger bends
      • Thumb bends
      • Make a “C” or an “O” by curving your fingers
      • Lift fingers one-by-one off the table
      • Wrist stretches into flexion and extension with opposing hand
  • Painkillers – This will help ease the pain on those days where it feels unbearable.
  • Hot and cold therapy – ice for swollen joints and heat to help with the stiffness. 
  • Splinting – In cases that the pain is very high, sometimes splints that hold the joints still can help reduce pain.