How to Treat Arthritis of the Hands: Effective Relief Tips

Arthritis of the hands can be a debilitating condition that affects daily activities and quality of life. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available that can provide relief and improve hand function.

In this article, we will explore various treatment options How to Treat Arthritis of the Hands including non-surgical treatments, medications, physical therapy, hand splints, surgical options, and alternative therapies. We will also discuss lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms and improve hand function.

Key Takeaways:

  • Arthritis of the hands can be effectively treated with a variety of treatment options.
  • Non-surgical treatments can include lifestyle changes, exercise, and splints.
  • Medications such as pain relievers, NSAIDs, and DMARDs may also be used to manage symptoms.
  • Physical therapy can help improve hand function and flexibility.
  • Surgical options may be necessary for severe cases of hand arthritis.
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, may provide additional relief.
  • Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and protecting the hands from excessive stress, can also help manage symptoms of hand arthritis.

Understanding Arthritis of the Hands

how to treat arthritis of the hands

Arthritis of the hands is a condition that affects the joints and surrounding tissues in the hands. It is a common form of arthritis, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Hand arthritis is predominantly caused by the natural aging process, though other factors such as genetics, injury, or infection may also play a role. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty with movement.

Types of Hand Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis that can affect the hands, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is caused by the wear and tear of the joints, particularly in older individuals.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can affect people of any age and can cause inflammation and joint damage in the hands and other parts of the body.

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can affect people with the skin condition psoriasis, and can cause joint inflammation and damage in the hands and other areas of the body.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan if you are experiencing hand arthritis symptoms.

Diagnosing Hand Arthritis

Diagnosing hand arthritis typically involves a combination of physical examination, imaging tests, and blood tests. Your doctor will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination of your hands, looking for signs of joint inflammation, deformity, or limited range of motion.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI, and ultrasound, may be used to confirm a diagnosis of hand arthritis. These tests can show the extent of joint damage and help identify the specific type of arthritis present.

Blood tests may also be performed, checking for specific markers of inflammation in the body. Elevated levels of certain blood markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), can indicate the presence of arthritis.

Non-surgical Treatment Options for Hand Arthritis

If you have been diagnosed with hand arthritis, your doctor may recommend non-surgical treatment options to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. These options include:

Treatment Option Description
Lifestyle changes Changes to your diet and exercise routine can help reduce inflammation and improve joint function. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding trigger foods can also help manage symptoms.
Exercises Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve flexibility and reduce pain in the hands. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises that are safe and effective for your specific condition.
Medications Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor may also prescribe disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to slow the progression of the disease.
Splints Wearing a splint can help support the joint and reduce pain during activities that cause stress on the hands. Different types of splints are available depending on the location and severity of your arthritis.

It’s important to discuss these treatment options with your doctor and follow their recommendations for managing your hand arthritis. Non-surgical treatments can be effective in reducing pain and improving joint function, but may not provide complete relief for everyone.

Medications for Hand Arthritis

There are several types of medications that can be used to treat hand arthritis. Your doctor may recommend one or more of these medications depending on the severity of your symptoms and your overall health.

Pain Relievers

Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, can help reduce pain associated with hand arthritis. These medications are available over the counter and can be taken as needed. However, it’s important to not exceed the recommended dose as it can cause liver damage.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with hand arthritis. These medications are available over the counter or in prescription strength and should be taken as directed by your doctor.

Disease-modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

DMARDs are used to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, which can also affect the hands. These medications require a prescription and work by blocking the immune system’s attack on the joints.

Your doctor may recommend a combination of these medications, or they may suggest other medications that are more appropriate for your specific condition. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations and to discuss any concerns or side effects you may experience.

Physical Therapy for Hand Arthritis

Physical therapy can be an effective way to manage the symptoms of hand arthritis and improve hand function. Physical therapists can develop a customized plan to help you regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in your hands.

Some common physical therapy techniques for hand arthritis include:

  • Range-of-motion exercises: These exercises help improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness. Your therapist may teach you how to perform stretches or use tools like therapy putty or hand squeezers.
  • Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can help improve grip strength and overall hand function. Your therapist may recommend exercises such as finger curls or wrist extensions using weights or elastic bands.
  • Modalities: Modalities such as heat or cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation may be used to reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness in the hands.
  • Manual therapy: This technique involves manipulating the soft tissues and joints of the hands to improve range of motion and reduce pain. Your therapist may use massage, mobilization, or manipulation techniques.

It’s important to work closely with your physical therapist and follow their instructions to ensure that you’re performing exercises correctly and safely. Depending on the severity of your arthritis, you may require several weeks or months of physical therapy to see results.

Hand Splints for Arthritis Relief

how to treat arthritis of the hands

Hand splints are a non-invasive treatment option for hand arthritis that can provide relief from pain and discomfort. These devices are designed to support the hand and wrist, reducing inflammation and limiting the motion of affected joints.

There are many different types of hand splints available, each with its own functionality and benefits. The most common types of hand splints for arthritis include resting splints, functional splints, and dynamic splints. Resting splints are used to immobilize the hand and promote healing, while functional splints are designed to support the hand during daily activities. Dynamic splints use tension to help improve joint flexibility and mobility.

Splints can be purchased over the counter or custom-made by a hand therapist. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best type of splint for your individual needs.

It is also important to note that while hand splints can provide relief for hand arthritis, they should not be used as a substitute for other treatment options or lifestyle changes. If you are experiencing symptoms of hand arthritis, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most effective treatment plan.

Surgical Options for Severe Hand Arthritis

If non-surgical treatments have not adequately managed the symptoms of hand arthritis, surgery may be considered. Surgery aims to relieve pain, restore joint function, and improve the overall quality of life for those with severe arthritis of the hands.

There are several surgical options for hand arthritis:

Type of Surgery Description
Joint Replacement Surgery In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. This surgery is most commonly performed for the wrist, thumb, and finger joints.
Joint Fusion Surgery During this surgery, the two bones that make up the joint are fused together, eliminating the joint and creating a solid bone. This procedure is typically performed on the wrist or finger joints.
Osteotomy This procedure involves cutting and repositioning the bone to relieve pressure on the joint. It is typically performed for the thumb joint.

Before undergoing any surgery, it is important to discuss the potential benefits and risks with your doctor. Recovery time can vary depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s individual circumstances, so it is important to follow all post-operative instructions carefully.

Remember, surgery is typically considered a last resort for hand arthritis, so explore all non-surgical treatment options first before considering surgical interventions.

Alternative Therapies for Hand Arthritis

In addition to traditional medical treatments, alternative therapies may provide relief for hand arthritis. While scientific evidence may be limited, some people find these therapies helpful in managing their symptoms.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the nervous system and promote healing. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may provide short-term pain relief for people with hand arthritis.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbs, such as ginger and turmeric, may have natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and swelling associated with arthritis. It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider before taking any herbal remedies, as they can interact with medications and may not be safe for everyone.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help improve circulation, reduce tension, and increase range of motion in the hands. It’s important to work with a licensed massage therapist who has experience working with people with arthritis to ensure that the massage is safe and effective.

It’s important to note that alternative therapies should not be used as a substitute for traditional medical treatments, but rather as a complement to them.

While some people may find relief from alternative therapies, it’s important to approach them with caution and to speak with a healthcare provider before trying them. While some therapies may be safe and effective, others may be harmful or may interfere with traditional medical treatments.

Lifestyle Changes for Managing Hand Arthritis

If you have hand arthritis, incorporating lifestyle changes into your daily routine can help manage symptoms and improve overall hand function. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts extra stress on the joints, so maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Stay active: Regular exercise can help improve joint flexibility, reduce stiffness, and strengthen the muscles in the hands.
  • Protect your hands: Avoid activities that put excessive stress on the hands, such as gripping or squeezing objects tightly, and wear gloves when doing household chores or yard work.
  • Use assistive devices: Assistive devices, such as jar openers or specially designed kitchen utensils, can help reduce the strain on your hands while performing everyday tasks.
  • Take breaks: Take frequent breaks during activities that require repetitive hand motions, such as typing or knitting, to reduce strain on the joints.

By incorporating these lifestyle changes into your daily routine, you can help manage hand arthritis symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

Conclusion

Arthritis of the hands can be a challenging condition to manage, but the good news is that there are many effective treatment options available. Whether you opt for non-surgical approaches such as physical therapy and medications, or more invasive options like surgery, the goal is to find a treatment that works best for your individual needs and lifestyle.

how to treat arthritis of the hands

It’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to create a treatment plan that addresses your specific symptoms and concerns. Additionally, making lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can go a long way in managing the condition and preventing further damage to the hands.

Remember to keep a positive outlook and stay committed to your treatment plan – with time and effort, you can effectively manage arthritis of the hands and continue to enjoy the activities you love.

FAQ

Q: How can I effectively treat arthritis of the hands?

A: There are several treatment options available for arthritis of the hands, including non-surgical approaches and surgical interventions. Non-surgical treatment options include lifestyle changes, exercises, medications, and hand splints. Surgical options may be considered for severe cases. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for your specific condition.

Q: What is arthritis of the hands?

A: Arthritis of the hands refers to inflammation and degeneration of the joints in the hands. It can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty with gripping and performing daily activities. The condition can be caused by various factors, including aging, joint injuries, and underlying medical conditions.

Q: How is hand arthritis diagnosed?

A: Hand arthritis is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, imaging tests (such as X-rays or MRI), and blood tests. These diagnostic methods help identify the extent of joint damage, rule out other conditions, and determine the most appropriate treatment approach.

Q: What are the non-surgical treatment options for hand arthritis?

A: Non-surgical treatment options for hand arthritis include making lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding repetitive hand movements, performing exercises to improve strength and flexibility, taking medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and using hand splints to support and stabilize the affected joints.

Q: What medications are used to treat hand arthritis?

A: Medications commonly used to treat hand arthritis include pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to slow down the progression of the disease. The choice of medication depends on the severity of symptoms and individual patient factors.

Q: How can physical therapy help with hand arthritis?

A: Physical therapy can play a crucial role in managing hand arthritis. A therapist can guide you through exercises and techniques aimed at improving range of motion, strength, and joint function in the hands. Physical therapy may also include modalities such as heat or cold therapy and manual techniques to reduce pain and inflammation.

Q: Are hand splints beneficial for arthritis relief?

A: Hand splints can provide support and stability to the affected joints, reducing pain and discomfort associated with hand arthritis. There are different types of hand splints available, including resting splints and functional splints, which are designed to be worn during specific activities. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable splint for your needs.

Q: When is surgery an option for severe hand arthritis?

A: Surgery may be considered for severe hand arthritis when non-surgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief. Surgical options for hand arthritis include joint replacement surgery, where the damaged joint is replaced with an artificial joint, and joint fusion, where the joint surfaces are permanently joined together. The decision to undergo surgery depends on individual factors and should be discussed with a hand surgeon.

Q: Are there alternative therapies that can help with hand arthritis?

A: Some alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and massage therapy, may provide relief for hand arthritis symptoms. However, the effectiveness of these therapies varies from person to person, and it is important to consult with a qualified practitioner and discuss their potential benefits and limitations.

Q: What lifestyle changes can help manage hand arthritis?

A: Making certain lifestyle changes can help manage hand arthritis symptoms. These include maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active with exercises that are gentle on the hands, avoiding repetitive hand movements or positions that strain the joints, and protecting the hands from excessive stress or injury.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.