What Does Finger Joint Pain Mean?
For those living with any type of hand arthritis, the associated pain can be debilitating, dramatically affecting your quality of life. Stiff, achy fingers can make it challenging to use your hands, turning even simple daily routines into frustrations. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis as of today, there are several things you can do to alleviate your symptoms and gain greater control over your life.
12 Relief Remedies for Osteoarthritis Finger Joint Pain
Here are several home remedies and medical procedures that can help treat stiff and aching fingers:
- Heat and Cold Therapy
- Topical Pain Medications
- Oral Pain Medications
- Massage Therapy
- Compression Gloves
- Diet Changes
- Hand Exercises
- Anti-Inflammatory Injections
your fingers and knuckles may indicate you suffer from osteoarthritis. This degenerative disease can strike any joint in the body, but most commonly affects the hands and fingers. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage between joints to wear down, creating inflammation. The damage occurs at a rate greater than the body’s ability to heal. This leads to stiffness and pain as the bones rub together without adequate cushion or buffer.
Symptoms of finger joint pain vary depending on the type of arthritis and the degree of cartilage wear. The discomfort associated with arthritis is often accompanied by redness and swelling of the joints. Many people experience cramping, burning, difficulty moving fingers, and a weak grip.
Sometimes the intensity of symptoms is triggered by the time of day. People with osteoarthritis often report intense finger joint pain first thing in the morning, making it challenging to complete simple, routine tasks like buttoning a coat or brewing a morning cup of coffee. Others report increased discomfort at night, which makes getting a restful night’s sleep nearly impossible. Nighttime pain is most commonly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Controlling Finger Joint Pain – What Helps?
Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat therapy is often highly effective at relieving joint pain and improving hand flexibility. Soak your hands in a bowl of warm water to calm inflamed tendons. Warm compresses and paraffin wax treatments can also help ease achiness and discomfort. But use caution: Only engage in paraffin treatments under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Be sure to alternate between heat and cold treatments. While heat will relax muscles and tendons, ice will reduce swelling and help numb the pain. Apply ice to swollen and painful joints for up to 10 minutes to ease discomfort and inflammation.
Splinting / Bracing
Wearing a splint or brace can give hand joints much-needed stability and support. Many people find that wearing a brace at night can prevent pain from interrupting a full night’s sleep.
Options range from smaller braces designed for individual knuckles to larger versions that stabilize the entire wrist and hand. Some versions are essentially fingerless gloves, while “sleeve” options are available for targeting specific fingers.
Depending on the pain source and severity, any of these options can be helpful in alleviating achiness and discomfort. It may be worth experimenting with various braces or sleeves in order to find out what’s most effective for your specific condition.
Topical Pain Medications
Using a topical pain medication can alleviate finger joint pain, especially during flare-ups. One effective option for topical pain relief is Arthritis Wonder Cream, which can be applied once a day for all-day relief. The cream is massaged into the skin until completely absorbed, and will offer relief in as little as five minutes.
Oral Pain Medications
Oral pain medications can also temporarily relieve finger joint pain. For many people, over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen are effective. However, a prescription medication may be required for more intense or prolonged symptoms.
People with osteoarthritis often take anti-inflammatory medication on a daily basis. Use caution, and be sure to consult your doctor. Taking these medications for an extended period of time can lead to stomach irritation, dizziness, headaches, and even kidney or liver failure.
NSAIDs can also lead to fluid retention, which most commonly appears as swelling of the ankles. In addition, some individuals are allergic to NSAIDs and may develop shortness of breath. Asthma sufferers are especially vulnerable to allergic reactions from NSAIDs.
Regular hand massage can improve strength and alleviate discomfort for those who experience finger joint pain. Hand massages can be performed professionally or you can give yourself a hand massage at home. In addition to relieving pain and stiffness, regular massage helps reduce levels of depression and anxiety.
Acupressure relieves arthritis pain in three important ways:
- Acupressure points allow increased energy to move through the body, which can promote healing.
- Through acupressure points, neurochemicals called endorphins are released which relieves pain and swelling.
- Acupressure releases stress and tension, increasing circulation and enabling the body to relax rather than tensely fighting the pain.
There is some limited, but promising, evidence that acupuncture can help with arthritis symptoms. If you do try acupuncture, make sure your doctor can recommend a certified provider. The benefit you receive may depend on the severity of your arthritis, and how often you receive treatment.
Some people have found relief for finger joint pain with compression gloves. These gloves are designed to reduce pain and inflammation and may gradually improve mobility in your hands. If you try them, make sure they fit well – you may need to ask for help from a physician or physical therapist.
An overall diet that emphasizes lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, can ward off inflammation and discomfort. Some of the best foods to add to your diet include olive oil, walnuts, avocados, leafy greens, fish, nuts, seeds and citrus fruits.
In particular, fruits and vegetables with the brightest, most concentrated colors are potent inflammation-fighters. These foods include kale, cherries, spinach and blueberries.
You can also learn to avoid several foods that may encourage inflammation and contribute to finger joint pain, such as refined sugar, trans fat, alcohol and many dairy products.
The exercises below can help strengthen the muscles surrounding hand joints, allowing for hand movements with less pain. Stretches will keep ligaments and tendons flexible, increasing the range of motion. Regular exercise will boost production of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints and improves mobility, which in turn decreases inflammation and pain.
Hand Exercises to Alleviate Finger Joint Pain
- Knuckle bends: Make a claw with your hands by flexing each knuckle. Then slowly straighten each finger on the right hand and follow with the left.
- Fists: Make a fist and then unfurl your fingers. Remember to take it slowly. Open your hand until fingers are straight. Repeat 10 times with the right hand and then with the left.
- Thumb bends: Hold the right hand out with fingers extended. Bend your thumb toward your palm, stretching as far as you can. Hold for two seconds, then release. Repeat eight to 10 times and follow with your left hand.
- Finger touches: Slowly touch your thumb individually to each fingertip. If you feel pain, do not force the stretch.
- Make an “O”: Stretch out the right hand with fingers extended. Curve fingers inward, making the shape of an “O.” Hold and then straighten. You can do this whenever hands feel achy, tender or stiff.
- Finger lift: Flatten your right hand on a stable surface, palm down, and lift each finger off the table one at a time. Hold for two seconds, and then release. Repeat for each finger and then follow with left hand.
Please note: To avoid injury, you should complete these exercises with gentle motions, and never try to stretch through pain. A physical therapist may be able to recommend additional exercises.
In some cases, a physician may prescribe injections if oral medications aren’t effective. The process involves injecting anti-inflammatory medicines directly into a painful joint. This can quickly ease your discomfort, and often lasts for several months.
In rare cases, a doctor may recommend surgery if the pain doesn’t improve from diet, medications, exercises and other lifestyle changes. Surgical treatment for hand arthritis includes fusing the bones of the arthritic joint together, or reconstructing the joints. Fusion limits joint movement, reducing aching and stiffness. Reconstruction actually replaces cartilage that has deteriorated, usually with soft tissue taken from other parts of the body.
The procedure varies, depending on several factors, such as the type and progression of arthritis, the level of pain, and the patient’s overall lifestyle goals. In general, those who are more active tend to prefer fusion, while those who are more sedentary may opt for joint replacement. Please discuss all available options with your healthcare provider to make sure you understand associated risks before choosing a surgical option.
Long Term Management of Finger Joint Pain
Osteoarthritis, or any arthritis of the hand, is a progressive disease. The pain starts off slowly and worsens with time. Arthritis is one of the most common disabilities in the United States today, and many people experience this kind of discomfort.
Living with arthritis is not easy, but thankfully various therapy techniques can help manage your painful symptoms. Early detection of osteoarthritis and diligent treatment are key to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. Follow these treatments and recommendations for relief from finger joint pain, so you can concentrate on living the life you desire.
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