Arthritis of the hand can affect your ability to perform many daily activities that require fine motor skills. While there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, there are two main types - osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What is hand arthritis?
Simply put, arthritis refers to inflammation of one or several joints.
Inflammation in the form of osteoarthritis is simply caused by the wear and tear of aging, which wears down the cartilage that covers the ends of bones, which is essential for smooth and easy joint movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, refers to a chronic disease that causes swelling of the lining of the joints. The condition usually starts in the smallest joints of the hands and feet and affects these joints on both sides of the body.
It's worth noting that joint trauma makes you more likely to develop arthritis. Specifically, fractures or dislocations are the most common injuries associated with arthritis.
A dull or burning pain is one of the first symptoms of arthritis, and using the joint often exacerbates your discomfort. As the shock-absorbing cartilage wears away, the frequency and intensity of pain increases.
Other common symptoms that may lead you to seek treatment for arthritis of the hand include swelling, joint warmth, friction, cyst formation, joint deformity, and/or increased range of motion in adjacent joints.
There are surgical and non-surgical modalities of hand arthritis treatment that can slow the progression of the disease or remedy it.
Non-Surgical Arthritis Treatment of the Hand
The sooner you start hand or thumb arthritis treatment, the better, as these steps can minimize disease progression and preserve your hand mobility.
Ice therapy is a popular natural remedy for hand arthritis because it reduces the painful inflammation that causes joint stiffness.
Mobility adjustments to reduce pressure on the fingers, hand, or thumb are another common component of arthritic hand treatment. For example, this might include using an arthritic hand aid that makes it easier for you to open a jar, fasten your seatbelt, open a door, or button your shirt.
Along the same lines, wearing a thumb or finger splint for arthritis can also help. Wearing a finger/thumb arthritis brace can reduce stress on your joints. Doing this also reminds the joint to rest when it is painfully swollen.
Note that splints should not be a 24/7 arthritis hand treatment. It should be used during joint pain.
Constantly wearing a thumb splint for arthritis may actually be detrimental to the treatment of finger or thumb arthritis, as it can cause the muscles of the wrist, hand, and fingers to lose strength and flexibility.
Likewise, you should choose a hand rest for arthritis that is small enough to be able to use your hands effectively during use.
For more support, you might consider ZSZBACE's Joint Corner Wrist Splint. This affordable arthritis hand rest covers more of your wrist, so it can also be used as an arthritic wrist rest. This thumb support for arthritis allows free movement of the other fingers and cleverly placed contours that allow the rest of the hand to fully function. The Arthritis Bracer also comes with a removable splint for extra support.
The Ulnar Drift Hand Rest for Arthritis is another great tool for dealing with this possible side effect of arthritis - usually rheumatoid arthritis. Moving your finger toward the little finger can be very debilitating, not to mention painful. Wearing this arthritic finger splint can help treat rheumatoid arthritis of the hand as it promotes proper alignment of the knuckles and slows the progressive drift of the fingers.
Surgical treatment of hand arthritis
In some cases, you may need surgery when arthritic finger splints, ice packs, and other home arthritis treatments don't provide relief. Surgical treatment of thumb arthritis will preserve or rebuild the joint if possible. However, in some cases, joint replacement may be required.
Arthrodesis is another possibility for arthritic hand treatment. In this case, you sacrifice joint motion for pain relief.
After surgery, you may need to wear a hand splint or cast for some time to heal. Eventually, you may need occupational or physical therapy to restore hand function.
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