5 ways to manage arthritis of the hand - Dr Stephanie Barrett



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Arthritis of the hand makes carrying out everyday tasks like getting dressed or answering the phone, extremely difficult. Thankfully, there are things you can do to manage the condition.

In this blog, we’ll look at five steps you can take to help cope with the debilitating effects of arthritis of the hand.

1. Hand exercises

Hand exercises are some of the most effective ways of reducing inflammation and improving the mobility of your hands. Carry out one or more of the following exercises each day:

Pinky finger – Hold one hand out in front of you, with the palms facing up. Now touch your little (pinky) finger with your thumb. Do this several times on each hand.

The fist – Hold both hands out flat in front of you, palms facing down. Now bring your fingers together to make a fist. Unclench your fist and repeat several times.

The “O” – Hold out your hands, palms facing together. Hold both hands up in front of you and make an “O” shape with your fingers. Repeat several times.

These exercises are great but try not to overdo them. Once or twice a day should be enough. And if you feel your hands getting sore, take a break.

2. Hot and cold therapy

Applying hot or cold therapy to your hands can help to alleviate the pain. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may prefer one or the other, so try both.

Heat therapy – Heat helps to relax soft tissue and improve circulation. Apply heat by wrapping your hands in a hot towel. You can buy specialist heat pads if this treatment proves to be effective.

Cold therapy – Cold helps to reduce inflammation and swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a tea towel and then wrap the tea towel around your hands. Be careful so that the ice pack doesn’t touch the skin. Leave for around 20 minutes.

3. Change your wardrobe

Making a few simple changes to your wardrobe can make a big difference to the quality of your life. Arthritis and buttons don’t mix. So change button shirts and blouses for tops you can pull over your head. Also, swap lace-up shoes for slips.

4. Hand cream

The skin on the hands is very thin, so topical hand creams can be a very effective way of providing pain relief. Look for products that contain Salicylates that have an anti-inflammatory effect. For more severe pain, try products that contain Capsaicin or Lidocaine.

5. Change your diet

Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints. So anything you can do to reduce inflammation in the body will help to alleviate symptoms. Try an anti-inflammatory diet, rich in fruit, rice, barley, wheat and quinoa. And avoid sugar and fried food which increase inflammation.

Get help treating your arthritis

Are you struggling to cope with the pain of arthritis? Dr Stepahnie Barrett is a consultant physician and rheumatologist practising in London. She specialises in treating rheumatology, inflammatory arthritis and osteoporosis.

With more than 12 years of experience supporting patients both privately and in the NHS, Stephanie is an arthritis specialist London based and is well placed to ensure you get effective treatment for your condition. Get in touch today to make an appointment