Hand and wrist pain is often due to arthritis, especially if it occurs later in life, after the age of fifty. Pain and stiffness in fingers and thumbs is a perpetual reminder of the many tasks they have to be involved in all day and every day. Almost everything that you do during each day will mean that your hands are crucial for even the smallest job.
Household tasks such as cooking, cleaning or even eating, can be a real problem if you have pain and stiffness in your hands and fingers. If you work in a kitchen, whether it is at home, or in a restaurant or cafe, there is enough hazard without the added risk of weak or clumsy hands.
INFLAMMATION: is defined as a localized reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, or infection and it's what causes the pain in the joints. Inflammation symptoms definitely include pain and stiffness and may also show redness and swelling and, in some extreme cases, deformation of the joint It is the inflammation that causes the pain in the arthritic joint.
TREATMENT: is designed to relieve pain and restore function. Anti-inflammatory or other analgesic medication, with or without food supplements, such as glucosamine and/or chondroitin, may be of benefit in relieving pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs can be extremely dangerous if used ill-advisedly or to excess. Arthritis sufferers with other medical conditions may find these drugs can have adverse reactions and exacerbate these other conditions, resulting in heart attacks, strokes or intestinal bleeding. An alternative means to get the anti-inflammatory effects is to use a cream or lotion to rub on the joint and therefore avoid ingesting the drug. It is probably convenient to apply the cream before going to bed, as you don't have to handle anything.
Heat treatment, either in the form of warm wax or paraffin baths, or by heat from a radiant health lamp may provide relief from the pain but it won't cure the condition. You must keep your fingers as nimble as possible, even by making small drumming, piano-like movements on the arm of your chair. Plunging the hand in hot water, followed by cold water or ice and repeating the treatment will improve the circulation and bring temporary relief.
Sometimes a cortisone injection will bring relief for a short period. Surgery is usually not advised unless these more conservative treatments fail.
Surgery to the hand is normally considered as a last resort, when all other remedies have failed to bring enough relief and freedom of movement. Sometimes the surgeon will decide to fuse the joint, by inserting a screw or a plate, which will unfortunately curtail the movement in that joint.
Depending on the patient and the severity of the operation, it can take a long time to recover from this operation. I had this operation on my right wrist and it was six months before I could hit a golf ball.
DIET: You can do a great deal to reduce your arthritis symptoms by eating a sensible diet. Most vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits (particularly berries) have excellent ant-inflammatory properties. Ginger and turmeric are particularly good.
Fatty acids such as gamma linoleic acid and omega-3, are vital to relieve the inflammation and stiffness. Oily fish, such as sardines, tuna, mackerel and salmon are an important part of your diet, to provide Omega 3 oils, or an alternative to fish is cold pressed flax seed oil. Foods containing a lot of animal fats are best avoided, together with preservatives and sugar.
Processed foods and ready meals contain high levels of saturated fats. Processed meats such as lunch meats, hot dogs and sausages contain chemicals such as nitrites that are associated with increased inflammation and chronic disease.
Reduce smoking, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the tissues.
Pay attention to the Body Mass Index (recommended between 20 and 25) as an indication of your optimum body weight.
The importance of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, in a balanced diet, can not be over-emphasised. Several studies have shown that vitamin E combined with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may lead to the improvement of the condition and reduce the pain in patients. Fruit and vegetables are a vital component of a healthy diet, because they contain a rich supply of antioxidants.
Vitamin D is not present in many foods. It is an important factor in the absorption of calcium, because reduced bone density can even lead to osteoporosis. So, it's a good idea to take vitamin D supplements, but an even better idea is expose your skin to sunlight daily (always with caution), in order to force your body to produce more vitamin D.
EXERCISE, however painful and distasteful, is essential if the disease is not to get progressively worse. Joints which are not moved regularly during the day will just get stiffer and more painful. Just going about your daily household tasks will ensure you get some movement but some specific exercises each day will improve flexibility. Soak your hands in comfortably hot water and wash them gently, to boost the circulation and ease the pain and stiffness.
EXTERNAL AIDS: There are many aids available on the market, designed especially for particular household tasks.
There is a small device which will help you extract pills and capsules from bubble packs.
Difficult locks can be overcome with the aid of a key turning tool which will handle both mortice and yale keys.
You can buy a tool, with a long handle, which fits over most types of tap and will give you much more leverage with minimum effort.
Special Pencil and Pen Grips make writing more controllable.
Wearing oedema gloves during the night may bring comfort and relief from the pain. They provide gentle compression which acts to reduce swelling and the pain of arthritis in the wrists and hands.
Electrical plugs can be especially hard to insert and even harder to remove but a handiplug has a useful looped handle to give a better grip.
Mounted table scissors can be operated by the pressure of one hand depressing the "T" shaped handle. Once pressure is released, the scissors open automatically.
Specially adapted light switches and phones are yet more aids to make life a little bit easier.
Ken Charles suffered with chronic arthritis and back pain for many years - but not any more! He is a keen student of alternative remedies and his other interests are golf, dogs and the internet. Discover how Ken found Relief From Arthritis Hand Pain and why he's still golfing regularly, in spite of the arthritis.