Joint pain in fingers and hands is a hallmark of arthritis. Learn about symptoms of arthritis in the hands and fingers and what you can do to manage them. Follow this advice to help manage joint pain arthritis symptoms in hands arthritis symptoms in your hands and fingers.
Hand arthritis poses considerable limitations to those who have it — of the nearly 50 million Americans with arthritis, about 2 million say that the condition limits their ability to grasp small objects, and about 3 million report difficulty lifting or carrying anything weighing 10 pounds or more. Women are more likely than men to have arthritis in their hands, and often people experience arthritis symptoms in their hands before other signs of arthritis show up. Different forms of arthritis affect the hands in different ways. The progression of arthritis in the hands can actually be measured. If someone is pain free, it is critical to keep joints in good range of motion. Gulas, PT, PhD, GCS, dean of the School of Health Professions at Maryville University of St. Being pain free is the key, Gulas stresses, especially when doing exercises intended to build strength.
When pain acts up, rest and pain management may be a better bet. 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. 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 arthritis in your hands, although this is not recommended if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Your doctor will tell you — and probably has already — that staying physically active is an important part of managing arthritis. In fact, according to a study of 5,715 adults with arthritis over age 65, a lack of regular, vigorous physical activity doubled the risk of functional decline.
In other words, the less physically active the participants were, the more likely they were to become disabled. Of course, despite data showing that physical activity helps people with arthritis become stronger and more flexible, anyone with arthritis will tell you that sometimes pain or stiffness makes it hard to get going, let alone lift weights at the gym. People with arthritis often give up activities they think of as optional, such as exercising or gardening, in order to have enough energy for the activities they feel obligated to do, such as cleaning the house. One study found that only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women with arthritis met federal guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. If symptoms of arthritis in your hands or elsewhere are preventing you from participating in the physical activities you used to enjoy — and that are good for you — it may be time to find new ways to be active. If symptoms of arthritis in your hands are starting to trouble you, it is important to keep both your hands and body active. If you have doubts about how to do this safely, talk to your doctor.