You use your hands to access the world around you, from fun activities to daily tasks. Arthritis in your hands can lead to decreased motion, decreased strength, and pain preventing you from doing the things you love. Conservative management includes: splinting, energy conservation, and strengthening; all of which can be very helpful to increasing the functional use of your hand while going through arthritic changes. So what can these conservative methods look like?
Joint instability can lead to further joint pain and muscle weakness. Splinting is a good way to increase joint stability – protecting the joint and reducing pain during an activity.
- CMC Comfort Cool – Soft neoprene splint that protects the base of the thumb. This splint is recommended for activates that don’t involve getting wet.
- Push Meta Grip – Hard splint that protects the base of the thumb. This splint is helpful when shoveling snow or doing dishes, as its low profile helps it slip under a glove.
- Oval 8 – Hard, low-profile splint that protects the fingers. This splint is helpful when performing delicate, repetitive activities with the digits, like knitting or sewing.
#2 Energy Conservation:
Pain and muscle weakness can cause normal activities to drain all your energy. Energy conservation strategies reduce the energy it takes to complete a task, helping you keep your energy up throughout the day. Below are some ways to help conserve energy:
- Break up the task – take a break every 15 minutes, for three minutes, during an activity.
- Change your body position – instead of folding laundry standing up, try sitting down.
- Use adaptive equipment – using a pizza cutter instead of a knife to cut food; using an electric toothbrush; large, built-up cushioned handles on kitchen utensils.
Arthritis can make exercising for strength difficult, as heavy lifting can cause flare-ups. Extra-soft putty or a kitchen sponge can be used to build up hand strength. Some folks have success with aerobic exercises like swimming, walking, biking, or the elliptical machine. All of these aerobic exercises promote cardiovascular health while improving the strength in legs, back, and arms.
You don’t have to live in pain and compromise your quality of life. Our experts can get you back to doing what you love. To start with a more conservative approach, we offer hand therapy in each of our four therapy centers. Conveniently located in Brunswick, Portland, Saco and Windham.
If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialty-trained hand therapists, click here. We also have a highly-specialized team of our hand surgeons, click here to request an appointment with a hand physician.