21 May How Can Hand Therapy Help Arthritis?
Though we don’t place much thought into it, the use of our hands is critical for everyday activities. Unfortunately, degenerative conditions like arthritis affect millions of people each year, hindering their ability to use their hands without pain. While there are several types of arthritis, each with individual causes and symptoms, many forms of arthritis involve the natural wear-and-tear of cartilage that protects bones and joints. When this cushion-like cartilage breaks down, it can cause pain and swelling in the fingers, wrists, and knuckles. A tried and true remedy to ease the pain affiliated with arthritis is hand therapy. If you’re interested in learning more about this service, please contact our staff at East End Occupational Therapy.
Arthritis in the Hands
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis are the three primary types of arthritis that are likely to affect the hands. Though there are no real cures for arthritis, unless it is linked to an underlying cause, treatment like hand therapy is aimed at relieving pain and making joint movement easier.
Common symptoms of arthritis in the hand that may be reduced with the help of hand therapy could include any of the following:
- Pain: The pain can be dull or sharp and can occur while moving the hands or while the hands are at rest.
- Weakened muscles.
- Fatigue or body aches. (More common with rheumatoid arthritis).
- Cysts or bone spurs.
Pain and stiffness from arthritis can make everyday activities very difficult or impossible to perform. Occupational therapists can usually recommend at-home hand exercises and hand therapy to help improve range-of-motion and flexibility.
Hand therapy is a specific branch of occupational therapy catered to conditions that affect the hands. A hand therapist is a doctor with a specialized degree or certification. The hand therapist effectively provides postoperative rehabilitation, non-operative or conservative intervention, preventive care, and industrial ergonomic consultation.
For arthritis in the hands, seeking a specialized hand therapist can make treatment much more beneficial to your long-term goals. Patients with arthritis can look forward to these benefits of hand therapy:
- Reduced treatment time: A specialist can diagnose, assess, and effectively treat your arthritis much more quickly and efficiently.
- Faster recovery and improved outcome: As these professionals have more extensive knowledge of the hand and its inner-workings, patients can expect improved care.
- Reduced costs: There is no need to visit multiple doctors or specialists. Receiving hand therapy for arthritis is an efficient, one-stop treatment plan.
How can hand therapy help with arthritis? To help treat your arthritis pain, a hand therapist will:
- Show you how to properly and effectively perform certain hand exercises.
- Administer pain ointments or medications, or injections to reduce inflammation.
- Use heat/cold therapy.
- Provide you with a splint to support or strengthen bones.
- Suggest surgery (in rare cases).
With treatment from a hand therapist, arthritis patients can expect:
- Strengthening in the ligaments and tendons in your hands, improved flexibility, and pain reduction.
- Improved ability to grip or pick up objects.
- Reduce inflammation, swelling, and stiffness in knuckles and fingers.
East End Occupational Therapy
At East End Occupational Therapy, we are here to help. Our board-certified hand therapists are seasoned experts who can provide personalized advanced care to defeat your arthritis pain. Whether you have suffered an injury, are recovering from surgery, or simply need to soothe arthritic pain for everyday comfort, our team will help. Not only will we tailor a treatment plan to fulfill your needs, but we will also educate you on at-home exercises and lifestyle changes for long-term health and happiness. Schedule an appointment with us today!