While rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a body-wide condition, it commonly affects the small joints of the hands and wrists. RA often causes inflammation in one or both wrist joints, leading to pain and swelling in the area. People also notice joint stiffness, which can impair the movement of the wrist. The wrist is a complex joint that contains many smaller joints. RA is a progressive condition that usually starts in small joints. Debilitating hand pain and stiffness can get in the way of essential daily tasks. The following will give you tips to help your manage your RA Pain and minimize its impact on your daily life…
Visit an Occupational Therapist
There is no cure for arthritis, so treatment aims to manage symptoms, reduce pain, prevent joint damage, and increase mobility. It is essential to keep the wrist joints mobile to prevent additional damage. Occupational therapists are trained to help you strengthen your hand and wrist joints and help improve your hand dexterity. They want to know about your daily activities such as school, homemaking, work, things like laundry or anything that might become challenging, no matter how large or small.. they can help you with tools that help with your grooming and make it less painful. They will suggest a few wardrobe adjustments that make getting dressed easier. They will give you suggestions on arranging your kitchen to minimize hand strain. They will help with hand dexterity so you can do your crafts or play an instrument. Your primary care doctor, a rheumatologist should be able to refer you to a licensed occupational
therapist and some, like Tristate, have them in-house.
Wear a Splint
The plan could include custom-fitting splints or supports that can ease stress on painful joints and help prevent deformity. Occupational therapists also teach people how to protect their joints by performing tasks in different ways than they’re used to, such as using both hands or using an assistive device. Immobilizing the hand and wrist can ease pain and stabilize the hand. They may be especially useful if you already have a mild deformity and want to take steps to keep it from getting worse. Focus on home exercise programs that will help you increase your range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Improving your strength is the goal so you can turn doorknobs and such.
There are dozens of types of splints available. 1) Resting splints support the joints while the body is inactive and purportedly ease pain and inflammation. They also help prevent deformity. Resting splints can be for both the wrist/hand or for just for fingers. 2) Working splints support the wrist and hand joints during the use of hands. They are designed to help RA patients carry out daily tasks with decreased or minimal pain. 3) Finger splints can help keep the fingers straight. Especially useful for people who have trigger finger or swan’s neck deformity. 4) Thumb splints wrap across the wrists and palm, this splint helps relieve joint strain and pain at the base of the thumb. 5) Larger splints that keep the fingers, thumb, and wrist immobilized can be worn while sleeping. Your rheumatologist, hand surgeon, or occupational therapist can recommend one suited for your joint symptoms.
Use Voice-controlled Software
Pain in the hands can make it difficult to use a standard keyboard and mouse. Home voice-controlled computing has entered the mainstream, thanks to smart speakers such as Alexa and Google. Using your voice is a great way to give your hands a rest. You can dictate using your voice in Windows and use it’s digital assistant to surf the internet, send messages, and open apps.
Take Your RA medication as Directed
Sticking to your medication routine (or medication adherence) means taking your medications as prescribed – the right dose, at the right time, in the right way and frequency. If you have trouble sticking to a schedule, try using a pill organizer and leaving it in a conspicuous location and setting a reminder on your phone. When rheumatoid arthritis medications are taken as directed, they do a better job at reducing symptoms.
Change Your Diet
Making healthy food choices can help reduce inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis. Diet won’t cure rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the right food choices can help by controlling the inflammation that wreaks havoc in the body, delivering nutrients your body needs, and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Sugary sodas and desserts worsen symptoms many people report. Berries and leafy greens are cited as anti-inflammatory foods. so such foods as blueberries and spinach can help improve symptoms.
Focus On What You CAN Do
When joints are inflamed, don’t force yourself to do more than you can, the Arthritis Foundation recommends. It can be frustrating to experience hand pain, stiffness, and weakness that prevents you from doing certain things. But try and focus on what you can do so it does not create emotional stress that leads to even more inflammation. Be happy if you can play 9 holes of golf even if you would like to play 18. Be grateful if you can still cook your own meals.
Be sure and talk freely with your health care provider if you are struggling with your symptoms. They may have more treatment suggestions for you. If all else fails and you do not have satisfactory pain relief and hand function, surgery may be recommended.
For persistent joint pain that is interfering with your daily activities, see a Tristate rheumatologist to make the correct diagnosis and begin the proper treatment.
Contact Us (859-331-3100) For More Information to Request an Appointment
About Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology
Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology is first and largest Rheumatology practice in the Northern Kentucky area. Founded by Dr. Arthur Kunath in 1986, our rheumatology practice now consists of six doctors who are board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and a Physician Assistant. Patients see one doctor (except in emergencies), thereby assuring continuity of care and an individualized doctor-patient atmosphere giving the physician the ability to establish personalized and detailed relationships. Our doctors have received numerous awards, including being listed as “Top Doctors” in Cincinnati Magazine, receiving the Patient’s Choice Award, the Most Compassionate Doctor Award, and the American College of Rheumatology’s “My Doc Rocks” award.
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