Managing Arthritis in Your Hands

Arthritis is a common joint inflammation condition that has wide-ranging effects on different areas of the body and can involve any major joints including ankles, hips, knees, fingers, and wrists. The exact cause of hand arthritis is unknown, but the condition develops gradually over time due to wear and tear of the joint. Most treatments for arthritis are aimed at early recognition and prevention. Genetics can increase the chances of developing this condition, and women are more prone to arthritis than men.

The two most common forms of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (OA is caused by wear and tear on the joints) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA is caused by an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your joints). Both OA and RA can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness of the joints in the hands, and limited range of motion, particularly in the morning. Below is a breakdown of the severity of the symptoms:

Mild: Your wrist feels stiff in the morning and any hand activity can cause pain to come and go for days or weeks.

You may feel pain or irritation in your wrist when you

  • Turn a door handle
  • Grip a tennis racket of golf club
  • Twist the lid of a jar

Moderate: Your wrist may swell and feel a low level of throbbing. Pain and flare-ups may occur even when you are resting.

Severe: Your wrist and hand hurts if you conduct any activity or movement. Pain is constant even when you are resting and it is tender to touch. Decreased range of motion in hands and redness is visible.

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Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatments can range from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory gels to steroid, cortisone, and injections. If surgery is necessary, bones may be removed, fused, or replaced to decrease pain and increase function.

One of the ways to ease inflammation and help relieve some of the joint pain associated with arthritis is to incorporate the following foods in your diet - Fatty Fish, Garlic, Ginger, Broccoli, Walnuts, Berries, Spinach, Grapes, Olive Oil, and Tart Cherry Juice. All these ingredients contain powerful anti-inflammatory components that may help reduce symptoms of arthritis while also promoting overall health.

Other at-home treatments include hot and cold therapy, herbal supplements, acupuncture, massages, etc. Heat therapy is helpful in the morning to loosen up the joint while ice therapy is best later after daily activities. You can also try practicing these simple exercises gently daily to maintain full range of motion in your fingers, wrist and hand. Putting on a wrist splint can also ease stress on your joints. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing usual pain or if the pain persists after you’ve tried these home remedies.