Health Tip: Managing Arthritis of the Hands

Health Tip: Managing Arthritis of the Hands

(HealthDay News) — Arthritis is a collection of joint diseases that affect more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States.

The joint pain, swelling or stiffness that may come with arthritis can be debilitating, says the Arthritis Foundation.

To manage arthritis of the hands, the foundation suggests:

  • Use cold packs to numb the joints and reduce swelling.
  • For significant inflammation, heat packs may provide relief.
  • Immobilize the hand with a splint or brace overnight.
  • Use a grip or similar device if you have trouble grasping or holding things.
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Living With Repetitive Strain Injury

Living With Repetitive Strain Injury

MONDAY, July 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can affect anyone who uses his or her hands a lot and repeats the same movements over and over again. It can develop whether you’re working at a computer all day or spending hours of leisure time immersed in handicrafts.

At first, symptoms — like pain and tingling — may go away once you stop the motions or the activity. But without treatment, including lifestyle changes, symptoms are likely to become so severe that you could become unable to continue with your work or hobby.

Recognizing RSI Symptoms

  • Pain or burning
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Soreness

Don’t hesitate to see your doctor if you experience one or more of these symptoms — don’t assume that a few days off is enough to stop RSI. If the source of pain isn’t addressed, symptoms can become irreversible.

Part of the solution is to take regular breaks from problematic but necessary activities throughout the day. Get up and move around for at least five minutes every half-hour, and stretch your arms, wrists and fingers.

Practice good posture. When sitting, your head and back should form a straight line from ears to hips. When at the computer, don’t let your wrists bend to one side. Keep them in line with your forearms, fingers slightly curved over your keyboard. Don’t self-treat by wearing a splint or using a wrist rest — both can interfere with natural movement and blood circulation.

More Typing Tips to Try

  • Use all fingers to type, not just one
  • Use keyboard shortcuts
  • Take advantage of voice recognition software

Also, consider investigating the Alexander Technique, an approach to movement aimed at better posture and body mechanics helpful for RSI.

More information

You can learn more about the Alexander Technique online.

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Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Show Up Long Before Diagnosis

Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Show Up Long Before Diagnosis

FRIDAY, May 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Difficulties with daily activities such as dressing, walking and eating can be seen in rheumatoid arthritis patients a year or two before they’re diagnosed, a new study shows.

“This is a new finding, and a finding that is quite intriguing,” said lead author Dr. Elena Myasoedova, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“It may reflect an accumulation of symptoms between the time of first onset and the time required for providers to actually diagnose patients,” she said in a Mayo news release.

The study also found that chronic increased levels of difficulty with daily activities (functional disability) continued even after patients were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and began treatment.

That may be due to a number of factors, including increasing physical and mental pain, use of treatments such as glucocorticoids and antidepressants, and anticipation of relief from symptoms, she added.

For the study, the researchers looked at 586 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 531 people without the disease in the Rochester Epidemiology Project database of medical records.

The rate of functional disability was more than two times higher among rheumatoid arthritis patients than in those without rheumatoid arthritis. In most age groups, rheumatoid arthritis patients had a 15% or higher rate of functional disability than those without the disease.

The findings show the importance of early treatment for rheumatoid arthritis patients, according to Myasoedova.

“Alerting your health care provider to difficulties in daily living can assure that patients receive the help they need,” she said.

About 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that most often affects the joints but can also impact other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions associated with functional disability in the United States, and has a significant impact on well-being and quality of life.

Symptoms can include joint pain or swelling, but 40% of patients have symptoms that don’t involve the joints, such as fatigue, fever and loss of appetite.

The study will be published in June in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on rheumatoid arthritis.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, May 1, 2019Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Health Tip: Joint Popping and Cracking

Health Tip: Joint Popping and Cracking

(HealthDay News) — Most people have popping and cracking of their joints, especially as they age.

Though the reasons behind these sounds are unclear, doctors think they may be caused by ligaments stretching and releasing, or the compression of nitrogen bubbles.

Usually, the phenomenon doesn’t need treatment. However, if these sounds are accompanied by swelling and pain, seeing a doctor is recommended, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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Is Your Hand Pain Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel or Something Else?

Is Your Hand Pain Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel or Something Else?

FRIDAY, March 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — You use your hands nearly every minute of the day, so any time they hurt it’s important to find out why.

Certain conditions can affect people who do the same hand movements for hours every day. Repetitive strain injury can cause pain in muscles, nerves and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome swelling compresses a key nerve. The lesser known de Quervain’s tenosynovitis typically affects tendons on the inner sides of the wrist.

An autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis often causes joint pain. Without treatment, it can lead to deformities in your hands. The wrist and finger joints are common targets of osteoarthritis, which occurs over time from normal wear-and-tear.

Treatment might start with an over-the-counter or prescription NSAID to temporarily relieve pain, but their long-term use has been linked to side effects such as liver or kidney damage and elevated heart attack risk.

Stronger medications may be needed to stop a degenerative disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Corticosteroid injections are an occasional option to reduce inflammation. Heat can ease stiffness while a cold pack can relieve soreness. If you have a chronic condition, an occupational therapist can teach you how to limit stress on joints when using your hands. During a flare, he or she might suggest a splint to stabilize your hand.

Sometimes surgery is needed. Dupuytren’s contracture, a thickening under the skin on the palm of the hand, can develop into firm lumps that cause fingers to bend inward. Unless lumps are removed early, it may be impossible to straighten fingers later on. If other options don’t help carpal tunnel and de Quervain’s, surgery might be the answer.

Many conditions worsen without appropriate treatment, so don’t delay in seeing your doctor or a hand specialist.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on painful hand conditions.

Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Is Your Hand Pain Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel or Something Else?

Is Your Hand Pain Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel or Something Else?

FRIDAY, March 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — You use your hands nearly every minute of the day, so any time they hurt it’s important to find out why.

Certain conditions can affect people who do the same hand movements for hours every day. Repetitive strain injury can cause pain in muscles, nerves and tendons. Carpal tunnel syndrome swelling compresses a key nerve. The lesser known de Quervain’s tenosynovitis typically affects tendons on the inner sides of the wrist.

An autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis often causes joint pain. Without treatment, it can lead to deformities in your hands. The wrist and finger joints are common targets of osteoarthritis, which occurs over time from normal wear-and-tear.

Treatment might start with an over-the-counter or prescription NSAID to temporarily relieve pain, but their long-term use has been linked to side effects such as liver or kidney damage and elevated heart attack risk.

Stronger medications may be needed to stop a degenerative disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Corticosteroid injections are an occasional option to reduce inflammation. Heat can ease stiffness while a cold pack can relieve soreness. If you have a chronic condition, an occupational therapist can teach you how to limit stress on joints when using your hands. During a flare, he or she might suggest a splint to stabilize your hand.

Sometimes surgery is needed. Dupuytren’s contracture, a thickening under the skin on the palm of the hand, can develop into firm lumps that cause fingers to bend inward. Unless lumps are removed early, it may be impossible to straighten fingers later on. If other options don’t help carpal tunnel and de Quervain’s, surgery might be the answer.

Many conditions worsen without appropriate treatment, so don’t delay in seeing your doctor or a hand specialist.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more on painful hand conditions.

Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
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