A Practical Guide for Treating Arthritis of the Hands

Suffering from a disease like hand arthritis can hinder you from doing and enjoying your daily activities. This is because the tissues of your joints are attacked, which then leads to the breakdown of the cartilage. As arthritis starts, you can feel stiffness, swelling, and pain in your hands. This makes it hard to impossible for you to use your hands.

Hand arthritis is common for individuals between 30 to 50 years old. You are also more likely to get this condition if you had previous hand injuries, are overweight, or your family has a previous medical history of arthritis development. Arthritis is most likely to develop if you’re experiencing symptoms like stiffness or burning joint pain in your hands. Here are some ways to relieve or treat hand arthritis.

  1. Hot and cold therapy

One convenient treatment that you can consider is hot and cold therapy. Heat therapy is handy for lubricating your joints and relaxing your muscles. Some of the easiest techniques to handle hand pain include soaking your hands in warm water or taking a hot shower. You can also use heating pads or warm compresses to take care of the inflammation.

For swelling and numb sore hands, you can utilize cold therapy or cold packs for at least 20 minutes. Wrap the pack in a thin piece of cloth to protect your skin. Other things you can use for this treatment include a frozen bottle of water, a bag of frozen vegetables, and a lunchbox ice pack. You can either tap it on the achy area or perform an ice massage. You can try both to check which one is best for your hand pain.

  1. Stem cell therapy

Many medical professionals use this non-surgical procedure for treating arthritis in the hand, knee, and other joints. However, keep in mind that there are currently no standard medical guidelines for using this to treat arthritis. However, patients can consult their doctors if stem cell therapy is suitable and safe for their specific condition. Some physicians have particular criteria when recommending such treatment. It can be on a case-by-case basis.

For instance, it may only be recommended for individuals with relatively little cartilage damage and who are healthy. The good news is that stem cell therapy is considered a safe treatment with minimal unwanted reactions. Patients may only experience temporary pain and swelling following the procedure.

hands in the air

  1. Hand exercises

If the hand pain isn’t severe or is still manageable, you can try exercising them to maintain range of motion. There are specific hand exercises you can try for strength and flexibility. For one, you can try holding your hand with your fingers close and upright, make a fist, then return them to their original form. Repeat this on both hands.

Aside from fists, other simple techniques to try include wall walking, finger touches, and knuckle bends. Try out different exercises as advised by your therapist and do them at least three times a day for several months, depending on your condition. Ask your therapist or doctor for a safe exercise routine.

  1. Topical medication

Another treatment you can get for hand arthritis is topical pain medication. You can get over-the-counter patches, balms, gels, and creams to manage the pain or inflammation. One popular option is capsaicin cream. You can typically get them online or from a pharmacy. However, if you have an injury, a cut, or broken skin, this medication isn’t recommended.

Other medications you can look into are counterirritants, lidocaine products, salicylates, and cannabidiol products (CBD). Be sure to consult your doctor first to confirm if these are safe options given your particular medical condition.

  1. Splinting

A splint is a medical device used to immobilize or protect an injured part of the body and prevent further injury. People with hand arthritis can use splints to help them with tasks that require the function of the hands, wrists, or fingers.

Apart from assisting in hand function, splinting can effectively protect the weak, swollen, or painful joints. It can reduce hand and wrist pain, as well as morning stiffness and swelling. You can wear a resting splint when you feel pain or during flare-ups. Or you can choose to wear it during the day or overnight when you’re resting. Get the advice of your therapist before getting a splint.


Keep a watchful eye on the early symptoms of hand arthritis. If you’re experiencing unusual pain in your hands or wrists, consult your primary healthcare provider immediately. Advice from your doctor should always be considered before trying out any of these recommended treatment options.

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