Quite often people experience arthritis symptoms in their hands before other signs of arthritis show up, so arthritis prevention is tough because we only notice the problem when it’s too late! Different forms of arthritis affect the hands in different ways. For example, osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis is caused by the cartilage “shock absorber between joints “ wearing down in the joints. This can run in families or it can be due to sheer repetitive hard work! The most common areas that are affected are in the fingers and the joints of the thumb. The pain can be quite difficult and can ultimately cause symptoms that can prevent the sufferer from carrying out simple tasks such as holding a pen or even a knife and fork. Although this is not too common.
The symptoms of arthritis in the hands may include:
l Pain in some or all of the joints, including joints of the fingers, wrists, and thumbs.
l The growth of bony knobs on finger joints.
l Numbness in fingers.
l Painful joints in the cold.
l Difficulty with motions that require gripping and twisting, such as opening jars.
The progression of arthritis in the hands can actually be measured, joint damage of osteoarthritis is usually seen on X-rays.
Exercises that help relieve arthritis in the fingers and hands
If someone is pain free, it is critical to keep joints in good range of motion. Simple shoulder shrugs, wrist, and finger range of motion exercises help keep joint range of motion. Being pain free is the key. I stress this to my patients especially when doing exercises intended to build strength. When pain occurs, rest and pain management may be a better bet.
Try these range-of-motion exercises to keep your hands, fingers, and thumbs (which affect about 60 percent of grip strength) flexible and to ease symptoms of arthritis in the fingers and in the hands overall:
Close your fist and then gradually open your hand, stretching your fingers out, then close slowly into a fist again.
Make circle motions with your thumb, keeping it straight.
Stretch your thumb away from the palm of your hand, then use it to touch each fingertip.
Repeat these exercises 3 to 10 times daily. Stop if you feel pain in a joint or if you’re experiencing additional pain (lasting more than two hours) once you’re done. Some people find that doing these hand exercises under warm water is helpful. If you have osteoarthritis, you may need to wear a splint, wear a compression glove, or use another type of support to help reduce wear and tear on your joints during your daily activities.
You can also try squeezing a soft ball to build grip strength and help lessen symptoms of osteo -arthritis in your hands.
For free advice you can call Jo Sunner on 01778 426000.