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Thursday, January 04, 2018

Three Tips to Soothe Arthritis-Related Hand and Finger Pain

Throughout the United States, arthritis is an incredibly common condition. More than 50 million people currently suffer from one form of arthritis, and, by 2030, that number is expected to increase to almost 67 million.

One of the first places people with arthritis start to notice pain and stiffness is in the hands and fingers. This pain can make everyday tasks like cooking or tying your shoes incredibly difficult.

Fortunately, there are a few different solutions out there that can ease your pain and improve your quality of life. 

Hot/Cold Therapy

Alternating between hot and cold treatments is a tried and true method for soothing arthritis-related pain in the hands and fingers (and throughout the body.)

Heat helps loosen up stiff joints, and cold temperatures help numb pain and reduce inflammation.

You can apply heat to the hands and fingers in the form of a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or just a towel soaked in warm water. Make sure the heat is tolerable (you don’t want to accidentally burn yourself) and avoid applying heat to any area for more than 20 minutes at a time.

When it comes to cold therapy, ice packs or even frozen bags of vegetables are great options. It’s helpful to put a towel or cloth between your hands and the ice pack to avoid discomfort from the cold. As with heat therapy, don’t apply the ice to your hands for more than 20 minutes at a time. Cold therapy also isn’t recommended for people who have circulation issues.

Finger Splits

If you’re suffering from finger pain and stiffness, arthritis finger splints are another good treatment option, especially if you have difficulty straightening the finger joints and opening and closing the hand.

Finger splints come in a variety of styles, including the following:
  • Buddy splints (attach one finger to another)
  • Static splints (hold the joint in a fixed position)
  • Stack splints (fit over the end of the finger to keep the first joint from bending)
  • Dynamic splints (provide a prolonged stretch for stiff joints)
  • Ring splints (work in a similar way to stack splints, but they’re thinner and have a more stylish appearance)
The type of finger splint you use will vary depending on the parts of your fingers that are experiencing the most pain and stiffness.

Research shows that finger splints are especially effective when worn at night. One study even found that participants who wore splints every night for one year saw a 50 percent decrease in pain compared to those who did not wear the splints regularly.

Hand Exercises

Exercises to stretch and strengthen the hands and fingers can also work wonders in increasing mobility and minimizing pain and stiffness.

You can do the following exercises anywhere, anytime, without any equipment.

Make a Fist

Start by extending your hand and straightening all your fingers as best you can. Then, slowly bend your fingers to make a fist with your thumb on the outside. Don’t squeeze your hand too tightly.
Repeat ten times, then perform the entire sequence on the other hand.

Finger Bends

Extend your hand and straighten all your fingers. Then, bend your thumb down toward your palm. Hold briefly, then straighten your thumb. Repeat with each finger, then repeat the sequence on the opposite hand.

Thumb Bends

Extend your hand and straighten your fingers. Then, bend your thumb in towards the base of your pinky finger. If you can’t reach it, don’t worry. Just bend it in as far as you can. Return to the start and repeat 10 times. Then, repeat with the other hand.

Make an “O”

Extend your hand and straighten your fingers. Then, bend all of them inward until they touch and form an “O” shape. Hold for a few seconds, then straighten. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other hand.

Finger Lifts

Place your hand flat on a table with your palm facing down. Slowly lift each finger off the table one at a time, starting with your thumb. Hold each finger in an elevated position for a couple seconds before lowering it. Repeat on the opposite hand.

Wrist Stretches

You wrists need attention, too. One of the easiest ways to stretch them out is to extend your arm with your palm facing down. Then, use the opposite hand to gentle place the right hand down until you start to feel a stretch in your arm and wrist. Hold this position for a couple of seconds and repeat it 10 times before repeating with the opposite wrist.

Repeat these exercises daily, and use ice, heat, and finger splints as needed and you’ll soon find that your hands and fingers feel stronger and more flexible.

This is a guest blog entry.

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