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304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Arthritis in the hands usually occurs in the same typical spots. These include the joint at the thumb base where your thumb joins the wrist; many sufferers have arthritic bumps and knots around this joint which is a sign of arthritis. Another common place is the last joint on the finger close to the nail. Arthritis also frequently shows in the middle joint of fingers. Arthritis in the hands is very debilitating as we need to use our hands so often throughout the day. Hand arthritis can stop you from being able to do straightforward tasks such as opening a can, screwing the top of a bottle, or turning a key.
The first indication of any arthritis is that your skin feels warm to the touch, and there may be some swelling. Later comes pain and, observable deformity and a loss of mobility. A doctor will do various tests to decide if arthritis is present, such as X-rays and blood tests. A doctor may also suggest a bone scan in severe cases, which can reveal arthritis before it shows up on an x-ray.
Several medical treatments may help ease the pain from arthritis in the hands and perhaps restore some function. However, before taking any arthritis drugs prescribed by a doctor, you should do thorough research and discover the side effects.
Anti-inflammatory medications or analgesic drugs are generally prescribed, and usually alongside steroid injections. Steroid injections into a joint can be very damaging, particularly if the injections are repeated over a period. Damages may include the decline of the joint cartilage, and the joint ligaments can weaken; therefore, after treatment, patients often find they are in more pain than they started with.
You can wear a wrist or finger splint during the night. This may help relieve arthritic pain in the hands.
Resting the joints can also help.
Some doctors may prescribe a topical cream such as capsaicin for arthritic hands. However, many people complain it burns and stings their hands.
Pain medication may also be prescribed. If the pain is exceptionally severe the doctor may offer a strong medicine, but these may evoke side effects such as nausea and fatigue.
Non-prescription medication such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen can help reduce pain and swelling but prolonged use of these treatments may result in severe side effects like stomach ulcers and bleeding. Also, beware of these if you take other medications, as they may react.
Methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine are disease-modifying agents that can help relieve the symptoms of hand arthritis. But you should be aware that common side effects of these drugs include stomach cramps, appetite loss, diarrhoea, headaches, and nausea. Although not so common, other patients have experienced pain in the arms and legs, a rapid heartbeat, hair loss and extreme mood swings.
TNF blockers are supposed to inhibit an immune messenger which may increase inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. Although these may help reduce inflammation in most patients, they also put patients at an increased risk of infection, including tuberculosis. Before a patient is prescribed a TNF blocker, they will need to have a TB test.
Surgery may be suggested if you have very severe hand arthritis. Joint fusion is one option that can stabilize and strengthen arthritic joints, but unfortunately, it also diminishes motion, so in the fingers, this is not really a good option. Joint replacement is a last-ditch solution where the joints of the wrist and hands are replaced with artificial joints. This is quite an expensive procedure, and a surgeon who has extensive training in hand joint replacement is needed to carry out the procedure correctly.
Fortunately, as well as these treatments that may reduce symptoms but have considerable side effects, there are also natural arthritis solutions that will help those who have arthritis of the hands, without the side effects. You can also buy various aids made for arthritis sufferers to help do daily tasks and improve life quality.
Dietary changes are also beneficial, and many people living with arthritis find that adding lots of raw fruits and vegetables to their diets is extremely helpful in relieving inflammation. Processed foods should be eliminated completely or at least reduced as much as possible. Dairy is also thought to be a culprit that increases the severity of arthritis, so eliminating dairy products like cheese, ice cream, milk, and whole-fat butter from your diet is optimal.
Hand exercises may help improve muscle strength and range of joint motion in people who have arthritis. You can do hand exercises daily or, preferably, several times a day. You might find it helps to do hand exercises while soaking your hands in warm water. Know your limitations, though. Hand exercises shouldn’t cause pain.
Begin your hand exercises by relaxing the hand. Start with your fingers straight and closed together. Bend the ends and middle joints of your fingers while keeping your wrist and knuckles straight. With slow and smooth movements, return your hand to the starting position. Repeat with the other hand. Perform several repetitions of this exercise with each hand.
A physiotherapist can visit you at home to help you relearn activities so that you can still use your hands even if some joint damage is permanent. They will show you exercises that you can do on your own and home treatments to quell the pain and inflammation.
Hot wax treatment. This involves gentle hand exercises while your hands are soaking in soft warm wax.
Application of ice. Ice treatments for inflamed joints may help ease pain.
Arthritis can affect people of all ages, restricting mobility and affecting quality of life. While there is no cure, various treatments, and management strategies, including medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, can alleviate symptoms and improve joint function for those living with arthritis. Early diagnosis and proactive management are vital in enhancing the well-being of people with this chronic condition.