Thumbs Up: Dealing With Arthritis in Your Hands
Your hands are a significant part of your everyday life. They allow you to perform simple tasks that have a massive impact on the quality of your life. Some of the densest collections of nerve endings in your entire body lie right in your fingers. This is the source of some of the most abundant amounts of tactile feedback.
You may not be aware of the importance of the functionality of your hands until it is compromised. When dealing with the limitations of your hands, small tasks such as pinch grasp, ability to hold weight, and even range of motion can seem insurmountable. Arthritis of one or both of your hands can cause weaknesses that prevent you from living your life comfortably.
When dealing with any medical condition, you should always seek the advice of your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. However, gaining a basic understanding of arthritis, its effects, and possible solutions could significantly improve your chances of effectively dealing with, and regaining control over your hands.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a term used to describe joint disease and pain. You may find it interesting to learn that there are over one hundred different variations of arthritis. Types of arthritis include degenerative, inflammatory, infectious, and metabolic.
You may find that arthritis as a result of a disease has a more gradual onset. The symptoms may take time to present, but once they take hold, can have a significant effect on your ability to perform simple daily tasks. Degeneration of the cartilage in your joints, as well as stiffness and pain, can be prevalent when dealing with arthritis.
Depending on what type of arthritis you are dealing with the symptoms can vary. When it comes to your hands, there are some commonalities. Symptoms of arthritis in your hands can include:
Numbness located in your fingers
Red, swollen, and warmness in the joints of your fingers
Subcutaneous growth of nodules or lumps which can present in cases associated with rheumatoid arthritis
Swelling that can make your fingers look similar to sausages in matters related to psoriatic arthritis
Chronic pain located in a few or all of your joints in your hand(s) including the fingers, thumbs, and even your wrists
Lend Yourself a Hand
As always, it is crucial that you consult a physician to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment to accurately combat your arthritis. There are some simple steps that you can take to help you deal with arthritis at home and in your day to day life.
You can use orthotic aids such as an adjustable thumb splint or sling, full resting hand splint, as well as hand and wrist supports. Using something like these can help to stabilize, support, and relieve pain associated with the symptoms of your arthritis. They can also help you to regain the functionality of your hand which can improve your ability to execute pinch grasp tasks, flexibility, the range of motion, and assist with your ability to carry weight.
Exercising regularly can also assist with combating the effects of your arthritis, especially when it comes to your range of motion. There are some simple exercises that you can try including:
Rotating your thumb in circular patterns while keeping it straight
Closing your fist, then gradually reopening it while stretching out your fingers and finally repeating this process
Stretching your thumb away from your palm, then touching it to each fingertip while executing a pinch grasp
You should always maintain an awareness of pain that you experience when doing these types of exercises. If you have lasting pain, then you may want to rest your hands and implement some pain management. It is also useful to monitor the pain in your hands to avoid any potential injury. Combining these exercises with an orthotic aid can significantly help you reduce wear and tear. You may also find it helpful to execute these activities under warm water.
You should also find that sustaining a workout routine can improve the circulation of synovial fluid which assists with the lubrication of your joints. The increased flow here, as well as in your cardiovascular system, can encourage healing throughout your body. Specifically, the synovial membrane in your joints benefits from the nourishment of nutrients and oxygen. This should play a significant role in ensuring that your body has what it needs to counteract general wear and tear, injury, and illness.
Staying physically active despite your arthritis is an efficient way to maintain functionality. Regular physical activity can help you to sustain and improve many functions of your body. You may find significant improvements in your flexibility, range of motion, and your body’s ability to deal with the stress as well as the strain of the forces that work against it on a daily basis. By increasing your muscle, tendon, and ligament strength, you can proactively reduce aches and pains related to many medical conditions.
by Joe Fleming