General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Any motions to avoid with arthritic hand?

Asked by Jeruba (51652points) August 4th, 2016

(Ok, guys, this is in General, so never mind all those hand movements you might want to suggest.)

I broke my right wrist 5 years ago. Some of you may remember my spectacularly awful typing during that time. My doctor told me that I’d be having trouble with arthritis in that hand later on, and here it comes—stiffness and discomfort in the right hand, making it hard to write and draw and do other fine-motor things. My grip is weak and I often drop things. I have to correct an awful lot of typing errors, mainly missed letters. This has come on just over the past six months.

I can still easily do all the exercises shown here on the Mayo Clinic website, so it’s not too bad yet, but it’s progressing.

My questions:

Do you have experience with this? Do those exercises actually help? Can they prevent or slow the worsening effects?

And is there anything I should avoid doing because it’ll make things worse?

Thank you.

Tags as I wrote them: arthritis, hands, hand exercises, arthritic stiffness, physical therapy, prevention.

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20 Answers

Seek's avatar

I’ll be following this thread, as well. I wish I had something helpful to contribute, but I suffer many of the same complaints, especially low grip strength.

Pachy's avatar

I sympathize. I have the same problem. Right hand is the worst. Hand exercises have never done much for me, soaking in hot water helps (my hot tub eases my body aches a lot), take Tylenol, and have adapted my grip. That’s about it other than using those little rubber grippy things. I keep them all over the house.

JLeslie's avatar

My advice is get your vitamin D checked. Also, buy magnesium spray and spray directly on the joints and rub in three time a week. Just one spray or two, don’t spray a ton of it. Too much is bad for you. That’s not just some “natural” old wives tale. Magnesium is good for muscles and tendons and absorbs well through the skin. I know yours is more in the joint, but I think it might help. If not then you’ll stop doing it.

I would recommend trying ibuprofen if you haven’t already. Try it for a week and see if it will help overall, even after you have stop taking it. 3 times a day 3 pills with food and plenty of water, unless you are unable to take ibuprofen obviously. If you weigh under 115lbs only take 2 at a time.

My experience directly with bad arthritis is helping my MIL with her arthritis. She was at a point where she couldn’t button her blouse she was in so much pain. She did a course of prednisone and it was very helpful. I don’t think it was more than a couple of weeks, but I’m not sure. I know she does not take it regularly. Just something to keep in mind if it gets really bad.

I would use the joint, but avoid straining it. If something hurts badly pay attention.

chyna's avatar

I have the same issues. My right base of thumb seems to be the worst. Using my mouse extensively seems to make it worse.
Now here comes the seemingly crazy part: 3 years ago I bought a Hematite (non magnetic) bracelet at a craft show. It supposedly had healing powers for arthritis. Yes, I know that can not be possible and maybe it is just a placebo affect, but for the last 3 years I have barely had any trouble or pain with that arthritic thumb. Where I used to hurt most days, I now only hurt about 4 or 5 times a year and only for a short time. I do not do any exercises. I have never taken this bracelet off, as per the seller, and I will swear by it.

Jeruba's avatar

@Pachy, what little rubber grippy things?

canidmajor's avatar

I’ve had arthritis for almost 40 years, exacerbated by various injuries during that time. It helps me to do slow full extension exercises every day. Washing dishes by hand helps, you really move your hands a lot in warm water in odd ways doing that.
Bad things include screw driving difficult things, the torque puts too much strain on your wrist. Too much weight, like a suitcase held for too long, or an awkward heavy box can cripple your hand/wrist/arm for hours.
A wrist brace should help. And NSAIDs. And wine. And cursing like a sailor.
Good luck with this, Sweetie, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. :-(

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@canidmajor, have any creams or lotions helped at all? I’m thinking of emu oil, shark cartilage, that type of thing. I’ve seen ads for them that say they’re great, but I’ve seen other reports that say they’re the equivalent of snake oil treatments. My sister suffers from arthritis in her hands (I can’t recall which type), and I’ve thought of sending her some creams to use if they are likely to offer any relief, but I’m reluctant to waste money sending her false hope of relief too.

canidmajor's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit: The only things that have helped were the capsaicin based creams. The glucosamine/chondritin pills help some. Warm is the best thing, the capsaicin cream and lightweight gloves at night help a lot.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Is there a brand you’ve found particularly useful? I’ll send her some as a pressie. Our hands are so important, and suffering with constant pain must be awful.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll add that arthritis is the joints, but if the pain is in your hand and fingers, especially thumb, along with numbness/tingling, it could be carpal tunnel, or both. The first measure to take for carpal is complete wrist rest for one or two weeks. No cooking, lifting, typing, writing, etc. Or, keep it to an extreme minimum. Add some NSAIDS too if you want.

canidmajor's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit : I don’t remember brands, I’m sorry. I sometimes make my own balm now with beeswax and coconut oil and Shea butter and cayenne oil. There are numbers of recipes on the internet if you want to do a little homemade present. :-)

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Thanks @canidmajor. I shall check it out and I’ll certainly suggest it to her. Anything that brings relief has to be welcome hey?

Pachy's avatar

@Jeruba, check these out on Amazon.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, cool. Thanks, @Pachy. I thought you meant some kind of exercise device like those things you squeeze. I had one as hand therapy when recovering from my fracture and surgery, and I used it so much that my hand therapist told me to stop.

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, not carpal tunnel in my case. I had very effective surgery for that on both hands years before the wrist fracture.

I appreciate all comments and am especially interested in the things that I should avoid, such as carrying a suitcase and driving screws.

How does a wrist brace help? Don’t you wind up losing muscular strength from inaction? That bothered me before I had the carpal tunnel surgery.

I do wash dishes by hand, every day. I’ve never had a dishwasher and don’t want one.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Are you asking me about washing dishes? My comment about total wrist rest was for the carpal tunnel, but from your experience with the ailment I assume that is definitely not your problem or you would know.

I would think not overworking the joints too much would help. I don’t know enough about it. I only assume that because inflammation and scarring is a part of arthritis from what I understand.

canidmajor's avatar

@Jeruba: the wrist brace helps me only on occasions that I need to avoid bending the wrist too much, it’s a reminder not to; and times I just need a little extra support. For example, when I sleep I sometimes curl my fist and wrist under my chin, the brace discourages that. I use a soft, elastic Ace type.

Stinley's avatar

I know that in the US, there is no license for topical NSAID creams but these are the recommended treatment for osteoarthritis in the UK. Can you get hold of Voltarol online? Paracetamol has also been shown to be as effective as ibuprofen in managing the pain and is often tolerated better. Physical activity is recommended also.

I read up on osteoarthritis recently as I have it in my foot. So this information is from good quality sources.

canidmajor's avatar

@Stinley: Thanks for mentioning that. We have Aspercream here (an aspirin based topical) that I have used with some benefit.

Seek's avatar

^ The Extra-strength aspercreme with lidocaine is the bee’s knees. I use it on my feet.

Voltaren is also awesome, but by-prescription-only in the US. I had a leftover tube given to me by a friend and I mourn the fact that it is long-emptied.

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