When arthritis attacks the joints in your fingers and hands, it can greatly interfere with your life. You use your hands for just about everything. You not only have to put up with pain, you may also have trouble writing and opening jars. Getting effective treatment is important. Sometimes over-the-counter medication isn't enough to help. Here are some treatments your doctor may recommend.
There are various classes of drugs used to treat arthritis. Some relieve pain and others reduce inflammation. If your hands are stiff and sore due to inflammation, then these drugs may help you regain some mobility and at the same time reduce pain. Anti-inflammatory medication can be taken in pill form or rubbed into the skin. Your doctor may even give you shots directly into the joints in your fingers. Other drugs work on the immune system in a way that keeps your own body from attacking the joints in your hands and causing further deterioration.
Your doctor may send you to a physical therapist for treatment. You might be fitted with a brace or splint that supports your fingers and keeps them stretched. You'll also learn exercises that keep your hands strong and limber. The exercises could be as simple as making a fist, clutching a ball, or bending your fingers. Even though you have pain and stiffness in your hands due to arthritis, you don't want to let the pain immobilize your hands or the stiffness will get worse. Keeping your hands mobile and doing the right kind of exercises will keep them flexible so you can continue to use your hands for the tasks of daily living.
You may not need to have surgery for your arthritis. Your doctor will try other treatments first, but if they don't keep your pain at bay and make your hands stronger and more flexible, then surgery may be the best option. Joint repair and joint fusion are the two types of arthritis surgery done on hands. To repair a joint, the doctor makes an incision over the joint and then uses an instrument to smooth rough edges that cause pain. The joint can also be realigned if needed. A joint fusion involves fusing together the bones on both sides of the joint so the affected finger is stronger and pain free once the bones fuse together.
If your arthritis is severe, it can cause the shape of your hands to change as they become less flexible. If this happens to you, your doctor may refer you to an occupational therapist to learn how to use adaptive equipment to eat, dress, and use the computer. Even if you lose the use of your fingers as your arthritis progresses, you can still do a lot of things for yourself thanks to medical devices designed for that purpose. An occupational therapist can help you figure out what equipment will help you most and then teach you how to use it. The therapist can even evaluate your home to make sure you'll be able to cook, bathe, and manage around the house with limited use of your hands. Simple changes you may not even think of can make a big difference in the quality of your life when your hands won't cooperate like you wish they would.
If you're having pain in your finger joints, be sure to see a doctor like Sarasota Arthritis Center about it so you can begin treatment early. Arthritis damages your joints so you don't want to wait until a lot of damage is already done before you seek help.