Hand pain can be debilitating. The soreness and stiffness can interfere with just about everything we do during our day — from buttoning our shirts to opening a bottle of wine. Experts say the most common cause of hand pain, which affects approximately 15% of Americans, is osteoarthritis. The disease damages the shock-absorbing cartilage at the base of our fingers and thumb so that simple movements often hurt.
According to the Harvard Health Letter, there are several ways you can manage hand pain and maintain function without resorting to surgery.
- Use a hand splint to stabilize the fingers and thumb. Dr. Philip Blazar, an orthopedic surgeon and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said that wearing a hand splint, which resembles a fingerless glove and is widely available in retail stores and pharmacies, can help reduce inflammation.
- NSAIDS. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, reduce swelling by blocking the enzymes that cause inflammation. While long-term use of this class of drugs is discouraged because of potential side effects to the liver, stomach, and even to the heart, your healthcare professional can give you guidance for short-term usage. Topical NSAIDS such as Voltaren may be safer, said the Harvard Health Letter.
- Go herbal. An herbal mix called Curamin, which contains a form of highly absorbable curcumin, boswellia, and other proprietary substances, has been shown to be effective for treating pain, said Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, an internationally known pain expert. Hemp oil can also be beneficial, he added.
- Exercise. According to Healthline, something simple like making a fist and then opening your hands repeatedly can help reduce hand pain. Another good exercise is bending your individual fingers and thumbs in toward your palm, holding the position, and then releasing. Repeat 10 times.
- Hot and cold therapy. Medical News Today said that applying ice to swollen joints for 10 minutes can help reduce swelling and bring relief. Heat therapy can also ease stiff joints so soaking your hands in warm bath water is a good idea, especially if you add anti-inflammatory bath salts such as arnica-based products to the tub.
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