If you are living with the condition, Osteoarthritis of the hand, you may be experiencing some discomfort and stiffness in your finger joints as well as loss of range of motion.
Current Arthritic guidelines recommend the use of paracetamol and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to manage arthritic pain. These types of medication are available over the counter at all pharmacies and supermarkets.
Symptoms can be worse in the morning and other triggers can include:
- Cold weather
- Doing the same motion repeatedly. This could be doing something such as painting, lifting heavy objects or using a screwdriver
- Overdoing an activity
To help ease the symptoms of Osteoarthritis, you may find relief by doing the following:
- Cold compresses. Using an ice pack can reduce swelling and ease pain. You can apply ice up to 20 minutes, several times a day.
- Applying heat can help if your hands are painful and stiff. You can buy heat bags that you can put in the microwave that heat up in a couple of minutes.
- Using splints on your thumb, fingers and wrist for support
- Using tools that have padding to ease grip
- Soaking hands in warm water
- Gently squeezing a sponge or rubber ball
- Some medication in the form of gel or cream can give relief when rubbed onto sore joints
You may also benefit from some simple daily exercises to help them with your range of motion.
- Knuckle bends: Bend your middle knuckles as if making a claw with your hands. Then straighten your fingers again.
- Fists: Form a fist with your fingers and then unfurl your fingers. Work slowly to avoid pain
- Finger touches: Touch your thumb to each fingertip in turn. If stretching your thumb hurts, don’t force it.
- Wall Walking: Walk your fingers up a wall and then back down
- Hand therapists can teach joint protection exercises and guide you on modifying activities to help protect your joints
It is important to see your GP if you start to experience any of the following:
- The pain is getting worse
- The pain isn’t getting better after treatment at home for two weeks
- The pain is stopping you from doing everyday activities
- Your hands are warm and red, as well as being swollen and stiff
- Your hands are stiff and swollen, particularly in the mornings and doesn’t settle down after half an hour
- You have ongoing tingling, numbness or weakness in the hands and fingers
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