Hand osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the hand. It causes swelling and pain, which could worsen over time if not taken care of properly. There is no cure to it, but there are ways to minimize or prevent the symptoms that can significantly improve the quality of life. The joints that connect the bones of the hands may wear after some time due to various reasons, including excessive movement or injury. It could cause inflammation, which turns to osteoarthritis.
If not treated, it may be difficult for the person to move his hands, thus preventing him from doing many things like writing, holding things, and other activities requiring his hands. Some people are more prone to this type of arthritis, including the following:
- Older people
- Those with a history of hand osteoarthritis in their family
- People who suffered injuries
- Those with joint problems
Consult your doctor if you suspect that you have this kind of arthritis. He will ask about your medical history and also perform some tests to rule out other diseases that may also be causing the pain and swelling in the joints of your hands. If the diagnosis is hand osteoarthritis, he will give you a treatment that could help relieve the symptoms. Some of these treatments are the following.
Your doctor may ask you to get help from a therapist. The hand therapist will guide you with exercises to strengthen your hands and improve movement and control. An example of this is the use of a hand exercise ball. It’s also a fun therapy treatment because the ball connects to a tablet, where you can play various games while exercising your hands. These games would require you to move and press the ball, thus improving mobility and strength.
Your doctor may also recommend medication to relieve pain and inflammation and prevent the joints from tearing further. Be sure to take the medicines with the right dosage and frequency prescribed by the doctor to ensure effectiveness and avoid harmful effects.
There are also immobilizing devices that would prevent the affected part from moving, thus lessening the pain. These devices include a sleeve, brace, or splint.
It is not always the first option since you must go under the knife. It is costlier and requires recovery time, so your doctor may use other alternatives first that may work before opting for surgery. However, if other options do not work and you cannot use your hands, it may be your last resort.
Cortisone injections are also alternatives, but since they have side effects like infection, doctors do not always offer them. Steroids are also a choice, but they weaken the ligaments and tendons, so they can only be used a few times.
You may also apply topical solutions or cream on the affected area to relieve pain and inflammation.
As soon as you feel constant pain and swelling on the joints of your hands, consult your doctor right away to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.