So many of my arthritis clients tell me that they have been told “you have osteoarthritis” and “there’s nothing you can do about it” or “it’s just part of aging”. The truth is that there are many different treatments that help arthritis!
Yes! Heat! It’s inexpensive and easy to use at home. Soak in warm water, use a heating pad, or a hot water bottle. Moist heat works so effectively for reducing pain and stiffness caused by arthritis! People often tell me think that they think swelling equals inflammation equals ice. This is true in acute injury but if you have osteoarthritis this may not apply. Moist heat affects the synovial fluid in the joint to allow for better movement with less pain.
Compression and Splinting
Cohesive tape, compression sleeves or wraps and custom or off the shelf splints can be used to reduce edema and pain caused by osteoarthritis. There are even special sleeves for fingers and thumbs!
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (such as Advil) are often used to reduce inflammation but when it’s one finger or thumb joint causing pain people often are reluctant to take an oral medication. Voltaren (1% or extra-strength 2%) is a topical cream that is available over the counter in pharmacies and can work to reduce inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. **Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure this is a safe medication for you to use**
Gentle range of motion and slow progressive strengthening can maintain joint flexibility and strength that are often lost gradually in arthritis flare-ups.
Other modalities used in physiotherapy such as joint traction, massage, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, paraffin wax, etc can also be helpful to help manage acute osteoarthritis flare-ups.
Please note that the information on this page is for reference only and not a substitute for medical advice. If you have a hand injury or condition that requires treatment, please see your physician or hand therapist for an assessment.