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Relieving Arthritis in Hands and Wrists

It’s a chilly morning. One of those days where getting out of a cozy warm bed is already a struggle. To make matters worse, this morning you feel a familiar stiffness in your hands, and extending your fingers is now mildly uncomfortable. You don’t FEEL old, but your body is telling you that things are starting to change, and it’s time to start paying attention.

Types of Arthritis

While an arthritis diagnosis must come from a medical professional (you'll want to rule out carpal tunnel, De Quervain's Tenosynovitis, and other hand pain causes), there are three types that commonly affect the hands and wrists, and are responsible for most arthritic pain. These types are osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis occurs when joints in your hands rub together, which causes inflammation.

arthritis hand

Usually, the joints are protected by cartilage, but as we age that cartilage can break down and leave joints vulnerable.

This can also lead to osteophytes (aka - bone spurs), which form knobs or bumps on the afflicted joints.  Early signs of this disease include numbness in extremities, and pain when extending the hands or feet.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs in about 20% of people with psoriasis, a skin condition. Psoriasis is an uncomfortable condition where skin cells accumulate on areas of the body, causing thick, often scaly patches of skin. This can range from mild annoyance, to severe skin disturbance. Irritation from sweat can cause the condition to worsen. In addition, this skin condition can cause a reaction in some sufferers’ bodies where the joints also begin to swell - and this swelling is psoriatic arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, occurs when your body attacks healthy tissue and is not necessarily age related. This can cause the same joint pain and stiffness as osteoarthritis, but often happens on both sides of the body and sometimes includes numbness and tingling in hands and feet.

Whatever the root cause of arthritis, there is no doubt this can be a painful, even debilitating issue. Luckily, many treatments exist to help reduce arthritis pain and help sufferers get back to doing the things they love.

At Home Arthritis Pain Relief

While arthritis can be painful and uncomfortable, there are some simple affordable remedies you can use at home. One of the most popular DIY arthritis relief products is compression gloves, which provide soothing warmth and additional support to thumbs, wrists, fingers, and knuckles.

Compression gloves for pain relief

These gloves can be worn during the day, allowing the wearer to type, text, tie his or her shoes, or just live life normally again. They are also comfortable enough for sleeping, helping to relieve arthritis pain upon waking.

In addition to gloves, arthritis sufferers may find relief by using a thumb and wrist brace, icing the swollen areas (or alternating ice and heat), or gently exercising the hands. Some arthritis patients have found relief with copper compression gloves. A splint will reduce the repetitive motion at the painful joints, which may lead to reduced inflammation and less pain.

For some extremely painful cases, speak to your doctor about steroid injections which reduce swelling and pain. Over the counter treatments and medications can improve quality of life, but no treatment should be taken without the advice of a doctor.

You don’t have to live in pain, or in fear that arthritis will stop you. With just a few simple treatments, pain and discomfort can be managed, and you’ll be back to the original you.

Want to learn more about hand pain (including hand pain that ISN'T arthritis)? Check out our series here!

Author: Jess Krzyczkowski
Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ben Frederick