If you suffer from hand arthritis pain, there are three proven tools to relieve hand arthritis pain to help you manage the pain of daily activities.
As we age the cartilage between joints wears down and allows bones to scrape together causing pain. At the same time, there is more than that involved in arthritis and it affects the whole joint not just the cartilage.
Questions to Ask Yourself about Possible Hand Arthritis Pain
Have you noticed that your hands and fingers seem to have started aching at times?
Has your pain progressed from a dull ache to extreme pain? If yes, does that pain occur more frequently than it did in the past?
Is your pain worse with weather fronts?
Are your hands and fingers stiff in the morning?
Have you noticed that you have less strength to hold and grip things?
What are the symptoms of hand arthritis?
- Pain that can range from a dull ache to a stabbing sensation
- Loss of strength
- Loss of agility or range of motion
You may experience some or all of these symptoms depending on how advanced your hand arthritis is. It will also depend on the type of arthritis you have in your hand.
Before you can start a treatment plan, you should seek a proper medical diagnosis. Speak with your doctor and discuss with him or her your symptoms and the treatments that are available to you.
In order to form a proper diagnosis, the doctor will examine your hands. They may also run lab tests and order some imaging like X-rays or an MRI.
Once the diagnosis is determined, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. There are various treatment options in both traditional medicine and homeopathic medicine that can work. There is even the option of combining the two.
Three proven tools to relieve hand arthritis pain
Exercise is important as it helps you continue to use your joints and fingers. The exercises below should be performed gently; even if it hurts at first, you should try to do a set of these at least three times a day. As you continue to do them, you should be able to do more of them and find that your fingers and hands are not as stiff as they have been. If you notice that your pain and motion are not improving, you should seek out a physical therapist to help you.
No equipment is needed to do these exercises.
Make a fist with the thumb on the outside. It is ok if you cannot make a fist at first; go as far as you can into a fist and hold for about three to four seconds and open your fingers back up. Repeat five times for a set with each hand.
With your palm facing you, stretch your thumb toward your pinky as far as possible and hold for three to four seconds and then reach toward all the other fingers on that hand and do the same. Repeat five times and then do the exercise on the other hand.
Make an “O” with your fingers and thumb so that when you look at the thumb side of your hand, it looks like an O. Hold this position for three to four seconds then return your fingers to their original position. Repeat 5 times for a set.
Once you have better mobility, try taking a soft spongy ball and squeezing it. Hold for three to four seconds and release. Repeat five times with each hand. This can help strengthen your grip. Once you are able to easily do a spongy ball, try a tennis ball with the goal of working your way up to using a hand gripper for strengthening-you can purchase one in a sporting goods store or department store.
Not only can these exercises return mobility to your hands and fingers, but they also promote better blood flow so you can experience less tingling and stinging in your fingers.
Over-The-Counter and Prescription Medications
There are many medications that can be used to relieve pain and stiffness. Many of these have side effects; some can be quite serious or severe. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects so you know exactly what they are.
Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with pain and inflammation. Capsaicin creams and rubs that contain menthol can help with pain and stiffness as well.
Prescriptions medications that can combat inflammation and pain include:
- Disease-modifying drugs
- Biologicals like Humira or Enbrel
- Pain killers such as Ultram, Vicodin, or Percocet
- Corticosteroid injections (combination of cortisone and steroids)
Homeopathic or all natural anti-inflammatories:
- Curcumin-a component of turmeric
- Fish oil
Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapy work to reduce pain and inflammation that causes stiffness.
For heat therapy, try applying a rice or clay pack, washing your dishes by hand with warm water, or placing your hands in a hot paraffin wax bath. The hot paraffin wax bath can work on other joints of the body as well such as the feet and elbows. After you dip your hand in the hot wax two or three times, place a gallon-sized zip lock bag or plastic shopping bag over the hand and then wrap it with a towel to help keep the heat in. When the wax has cooled, peel the wax off and place it back in the hot paraffin wax bath to melt and reuse later.
Cold therapy can be done with an ice pack or by placing your hands in a bowl of cold water. Cold reduces inflammation and swelling and allows your hand joints to work better. Reducing the swelling and inflammation can also reduce the pain level you experience.
Other treatments that can help with hand arthritis pain
There are many other alternative medicine treatments that may help relieve hand arthritis pain.
Splinting can help support the joint. This can help reduce stress on the joint as you go about your daily activities and lessen the pain that those activities cause you. If you decide you want to do this, speak to your doctor to make sure you use the right products.
Acupuncture may provide relief, but should only be done by a practicing professional. What is acupuncture? Acupuncture is the use of very thin needles placed in strategic places on the body in order to balance your chi according to the Chinese; however, the Mayo clinic says what it does is stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue to boost the natural painkillers in your body.
Massage therapy can be done in a professional setting or at home. You can do it at home by gently massaging your hand or you can allow a massage therapist to massage your hands for you. Massages can decrease stiffness and tightness; it also helps promote blood flow which can remove toxins from the area that could be causing some of the inflammation.
Essential oils such as MegRelief (a combination of nutmeg and peppermint essential oils mixed together) can also provide relief. Massage it into the hand and fingers to reduce hand arthritis pain and stiffness. Other essential oils that are good for the relief of pain, stiffness, and inflammation are marjoram, lemongrass, cypress, copaiba, and frankincense (boswellia).
Yoga is the practice of gentle stretching that will help exercise every part of your body, relieve stress (which can cause pain to be greater), and help increase flexibility and mobility. Yoga can also help with depression. Like stress, depression can also make the amount of pain you feel greater. Tai Chi is another practice that promotes flexibility and balance.
Meditation can reduce your level of pain, anxiety and stress. You will learn how to breathe deeply and how to concentrate with meditation. These two parts of meditation will allow you to take the pain you feel and see it as a color like orange or red and turn it blue; as it turns blue, your pain level is expected to diminish. This can work well for migraines and other pain issues as well.
All-natural and homeopathic supplements can help relieve pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Some of these supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamins are another type of supplement. If you are not certain that you are getting enough of certain vitamins in your diet, such as vitamin D and calcium, you may need to speak with your doctor about supplements. Vitamin D can be increased by exposure to sunlight-just be sure to use a sunscreen lotion to protect your skin. Normally, you should be getting vitamins from your diet, but as we age or have other health issues, we can become vitamin D deficient. Calcium and vitamin D are needed to keep bones healthy and strong. Those who are deficient in vitamin D and calcium are more likely to have thinning bones that make it easier to fracture or break bones.
Diet needs to be paid attention to as there are foods that can make joint pain and inflammation much worse if you eat them often. A few of those foods are as follows: fried foods, highly refined carbs, high sugar foods and drinks, MSG, gluten, and aspartame to name a few. Some people find that whole milk can cause their arthritis pain to be worse as well. The best way to know if a certain food is bothering your hand arthritis pain is to keep a journal. Write down when you eat the food and the pain level before you eat it, then what the pain level is later that day or the next day.
When you find which foods are making your pain worse, avoid eating them if you can. There are also foods that you can eat that will help fight inflammation. Foods high in antioxidants are excellent choices as they help clean toxins out of the body; toxins can cause inflammation. Eating a well-balanced diet can help reduce inflammation and pain, as well as, help you maintain a healthy weight.