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Get a Hand Up on Arthritis

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You don’t really think about how often you use your hands each day, until arthritis pain affects daily activities.  These acts may range from opening bottles, buttoning clothing, or activities you enjoy such as gardening.  We use our hands for virtually every task; it is one of our best tools.  When arthritis inflicts pain and stiffness into our hands and fingers, we quickly realize that simple tasks are going to take extra measure and may even cause quite a challenge.  This is scary for anyone! Osteoarthritis of the fingers and hands is one of over a 100 forms of arthritis, with 20% of Americans feeling the discomfort involved with the disease.

Your hand is comprised of nineteen major bones, eight smaller bones, two connective bones that attach the forearm and the wrist, and numerous joints. In a healthy joint, the area in which the bones meet would be covered with cartilage, leaving two smooth surfaces for the bones to glide through.  When cartilage begins to wear away, the range of motion is interrupted.  The movement is not smooth, and the joints do not allow for an effortless transition.  Arthritis likely begins to form, inflammation flares up, and pain becomes evident.  Osteoarthritis of the hand is commonly found at the base of the thumb, at the joints closest to the finger tips, and the joints in the middle of the fingers.

Don’t allow osteoarthritis of the hands to leave you feeling discouraged.  There are avenues you can explore to effectively manage the condition.  An early diagnosis is favorable, but many people will not seek help until the condition has progressed.  If you feel any pain or stiffness, speak to your doctor immediately.  For those who already have an advanced case of osteoarthritis, it is manageable.  Speak to your doctor about hand exercises that can build strength and flexibility in your hand.  For example, squeezing a stress ball is an easy way to gently build strength.  Hand therapy may also prove as a helpful tool.  In this form of therapy, you will learn how to restore movement and function through a personalized plan.  The professionals can also show you different ways to do daily tasks and explain devices that may help accomplish the deeds.  Hand therapy can ensure that you can self- educate and protect your hands.  Many individuals who undergo hand therapy can avoid taking pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s).  Applying a heat pad may also lessen arthritis pain and inflammation.  A high quality liquid Glucosamine supplement may also be suggested by your doctor.  Glucosamine can help to rebuild damaged cartilage, while promoting new cartilage growth.  It is a safe and effective way to manage arthritis symptoms.