As the weather gets cooler, many people are affected by joint pain in the hands and wrists due to arthritis or injury. Bodily extremities are prone to “shutting down” circulation to maintain core body temperature. This might save your life in extreme situations; however, it just causes pain under most circumstances. Anyone with hand and wrist joint arthritis will tell you the harsh reality of increased body aches in the winter months.
Why Do My Hands Hurt More in Winter?
Cold weather joint pain doesn’t always indicate a new or more significant problem. People with arthritis often have chronic pain from inflammation and swelling, and the pain is much worse in cold weather. Scientists think that barometric pressure may be to blame. When the temperature goes down, the barometric pressure drops. As a result, the tissues in your hands and wrists expand, creating internal pressure and pain.
Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent and minimize your joint pain. If your hands and wrists ache during cold weather, here are ten ways to manage and avoid pain.
10 Ways to Manage Cold Weather Joint Pain in Winter
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that heat and a healthy lifestyle are critical when you’re trying to manage cold weather joint pain in the hands and wrists. A few small changes could make a big difference in your quality of life!
1. Stay Active
As tempting as it is to snuggle up and watch Netflix all winter, movement can significantly ease hand and wrist pain during cold weather.
Staying active with regular stretching and exercise keeps your muscles and joints healthy and your circulation strong. Not moving leads to stiffness and increased pain. General movements, like walking, yoga, or house cleaning, stimulate blood flow and boost circulation throughout your body. To exercise your hands and wrists, stretch and move your fingers and bend and rotate your wrists. Here are nine exercises for your hands and wrists from the Arthritis Foundation you can try.
2. Apply Heat
Heat helps soothe the pain of arthritis in hands and wrists that cold weather brings on. Use a heating pad or heated gloves to keep your hands and wrists nice and toasty. As a preventative measure, keep your hands and wrists warm all the time in cold weather. Invest in clothing with deep pockets and high-quality mittens. Mittens do a better job of trapping heat than gloves.
3. Eat Healthy
Joint health is tied to overall health. Maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce pressure and keep inflammation down in the hands and wrists. Consider adopting a diet rich in foods that mitigate joint pain. As a bonus, the foods that help are heart-healthy and delicious. Check with your doctor before making any diet changes if you have a condition that includes dietary restrictions.
4. Warm Up with Turmeric Tea
Is there anything more comforting than a hot cup of tea on a cold day? Turmeric (or curcumin) is a natural anti-inflammatory used for centuries in Chinese medicine. Flavor your tea with honey, lemon, or your favorite flavors, and wrap your aching hands around a warm, soothing mug.
5. Wear Compression Gloves
Compression gloves apply gentle pressure to achy joints and keep your hands warm. Good quality compression gloves are soft and flexible enough to wear all the time, and fingerless compression gloves are available if you prefer your fingertips uncovered.
Even slight dehydration can make you more sensitive to pain. Make sure you drink plenty of water every day, but especially when the temperature starts to drop. Your hands and wrists will thank you.
7. Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a significant role in making you feel good, and that includes managing your joint pain. Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter months, as people are outside much less and getting less sunshine. A vitamin D supplement might mitigate cold weather hand and wrist joint pain when sun exposure is limited. Check with your doctor before taking any supplements and get advice on how much vitamin D supplement you should take.
8. Wash Dishes
It may sound nutty, but washing dishes in a sink filled with hot, soapy water involves movement and is relaxing and soothing. Use a moisturizing dishwashing liquid to leave your skin silky and soft. Other options include soaking your hands and wrists in a warm Epsom salt solution or taking a hot bath.
9. Use a Topical Pain Relief Cream
A wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription analgesic creams are available to help minimize cold weather joint pain in the hands and wrists.
OTC medicated creams may contain:
Counterirritants such as camphor and menthol
An anesthetic (typically lidocaine)
Topical prescription options include NSAID creams or steroid-based ointments.
10. Stay Positive
The winter months are often hard on mental health. Research has shown that people who experience negative moods and depression are more susceptible to pain. Their perception of pain levels is often magnified beyond expected levels. In the winter months, it’s important to stay active, healthy, and social—all aspects that help improve mental and physical health.
When to Call Your Orthopedic Specialist for Winter Joint Pain
At CompOrtho, we believe everybody deserves to live a comfortable life and have the best possible care. When you have hand and wrist pain, the orthopedic team will help you get back to living your active lifestyle. Call us immediately if you have:
Carpal tunnel can be a painful and even debilitating orthopedic condition. But it’s one that can be prevented with some simple lifestyle changes.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, a progressive condition marked by pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and wrists, is an extremely common condition. While it is most often associated with typing on a computer, carpal tunnel syndrome can strike anyone who performs repetitive tasks with their hands, such as cashiers, knitters, and assembly line workers. Or it can occur after an injury to the wrist or hand. Some pre-existing conditions, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, are also associated with a greater incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, women tend to suffer from the condition at higher rates than men because their carpal tunnels are smaller.
That’s relevant to the condition because, as the name suggests, carpal tunnel syndrome is directly related to the carpal tunnel. In carpal tunnel syndrome, your median nerve, which spans the length of your arm and ends in the wrist, becomes compressed due to any of the reasons described above. That median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel, a narrow pathway of bone and ligament at the base of your hand, which is the reason for the condition’s name. Because the nerve controls the movements of your fingers apart from the pinky, the first sign of carpal tunnel syndrome is typically a tingling or numb sensation in the fingers. Some people may also experience pain and a burning sensation radiating up their arm to their elbow in addition to a weak grip.
6 Tips to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Obviously it is best to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome if at all possible. The good news is that you don’t have to switch jobs or give up your hobbies to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. You can take measures to ward off the condition before the pain starts. Check out these 6 tips for ways to stop carpal tunnel syndrome in its tracks:
Go for a Neutral Wrist Position. Avoid bending your wrists sharply up or down whenever possible, including when you’re at work or simply in your daily life. Such exaggerated positions stress the nerve. Lift the pressure off by keeping your wrist in a straight, neutral alignment.
Lighten Up. You probably don’t realize it, but you may be striking your keyboard too hard. Go for a lighter touch and relax your hand and wrist as you type.
Take a Break to Stretch. Stopping your task for 10 to 15 minutes gives your hand and wrist a chance to rest. But make good use of your break time by stretching your wrist! One good exercise to try is to make a fist then release your fingers and fan them out. Stretch them as far as possible. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Switch Hands. If you always perform a task with one hand, switch to the other if you can. This gives each hand and wrist a break from a continual and stressful motion. Of course this isn’t always possible, but make a point of switching wherever you can.
Change Your Desk Setup. How your desk and chair are arranged may be causing extra strain on your wrists. Ideally, you want your desk, chair, and keyboard to be arranged so that your forearms line up with your work surface. The idea is to avoid bending your wrists as much as possible. Also try to keep your elbows tucked to your sides when working at a desk.
Stay Warm. Cold air stiffens up joints and muscles. Although you may be unable to control the office thermostat, you can slip on a pair of fingerless gloves to keep your hands warm and limber.
Treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you suspect you have carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s time to go to the orthopedist for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Your orthopedist will begin by performing a number of physical tests to assess any nerve damage. Once they’ve assessed the extent of the condition, treatment can begin.
Carpal tunnel syndrome treatments typically begin with recommendations of conservative therapies including:
Avoiding repetitive motions for two weeks or more.
Wearing a brace for four to six weeks to keep the hand and wrist immobile.
Working with a physical therapist on strengthening and stretching exercises after pain subsides.
In severe cases not helped by conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend carpal release surgery. In this procedure, the transverse carpal ligament is dissected to release pressure on the median nerve and enlarge the carpal tunnel.
Don’t Live with Wrist Pain
Healthy hands and wrists are critical when it comes to performing important functions in your everyday life. So don’t let pain stop you from doing your job or enjoying your hobbies! If you believe you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, it’s important to see a specialist right away to get to the bottom of the condition. The orthopedists at Comprehensive Orthopaedics can diagnose your condition and discuss treatment options with you to get you pain-free once again.
Triangular fibrocartilage complex tears are painful and can affect a person’s ability to use their hand or wrist. But what is a TFCC tear exactly? And how is this injury treated? Understanding what this injury is and how to identify its symptoms can help you resume a pain-free life faster. Explore our guide to TFCC tears and learn how a wrist specialist can help you regain mobility in your wrist.
What Is a TFCC Tear?
The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) connects the hand and forearm bones to form the wrist. Your TFCC is made up of several ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. It helps your wrist move and stabilizes the forearm when gripping something with your hand or rotating your forearm. A TFCC tear is any injury or damage to this area. There are two types of TFCC tears:
Type 1: These tears result from a physical injury. This often occurs when a person overextends their wrist or falls on their hand with it extended.
Type 2: These tears occur gradually and can result from damage due to aging or an underlying health condition, gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
TFCC tears commonly cause pain in the wrist. The pain may be constant or only appear when you apply pressure to your wrist or move it. Other symptoms of a TFCC tear can include:
Weakness or stiffness in the wrist
A limited range of motion in the hand or wrist
Loss of grip strength
A clicking or popping sound when you move your wrist
Athletes who regularly put pressure on their wrists — like tennis players or gymnasts — have a higher risk of developing a TFCC tear. You are also at a higher risk of a TFCC tear if you have previously injured your wrist.
TFCC Tear Treatment
If you suspect a TFCC tear, the first thing you should do is temporarily stop doing any activities that cause wrist pain to allow the injury to heal. You might need to wear a cast or splint to prevent your wrist from moving. Your wrist specialist will also likely recommend physical therapy. This involves doing gentle exercises to rebuild strength in your TFCC. If non-surgical treatments don’t provide any relief, you may need surgery to repair the tear.
Surgery to treat a TFCC tear involves a minimally invasive procedure called a wrist arthroscopy. During the surgery, your doctor will make several small incisions on the wrist’s outer edge to repair the damaged portion of the TFCC. Sometimes, they may also shorten the ulna — a long bone in the forearm — to alleviate your symptoms. You must wear a cast for a few weeks after the procedure to allow the area to heal.
Recovery usually takes a few weeks for TFCC tears that don’t require surgery. However, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before you regain full use of your wrist if you do need surgery. Doing physical therapy and avoiding activities that strain your wrist can help speed up your recovery time.
THURSDAY, April 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — In a discovery that shows carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t strike just office workers, researchers report that people who work in construction or manufacturing have a higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome than those with desk jobs.
Why the higher rates of injury among manual laborers? Investigators found such work requires lifting, gripping and forceful wrist motion, all of which are associated with higher rates of carpal tunnel syndrome.
“This study is an important reminder that carpal tunnel is a primary contributor to hand and upper extremity pain in both the clerical and manufacturing work places, and that ergonomic conditions for workers in both industries should be equally considered,” said study senior investigator Dr. Charles Day. He is executive vice chair and chief of hand and upper extremity surgery in the department of orthopedic surgery at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common work-related injuries. It causes swelling of the ligaments and bones in the wrist, leading to nerve compression. Common symptoms range from mild occasional numbness in the fingers to hand weakness, loss of feeling, extreme night pain and loss of hand function.
Motions associated with a risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome include high-force hammering, long-term use, extreme wrist motions and vibration, the study authors noted in a health system news release.
Carpal tunnel injuries in the United States have steadily declined, from 1.3 million in 2003 to 900,380 in 2018, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures.
When health care costs, reduced productivity, missed work and the potential lost income from changing careers are considered, the typical carpal tunnel syndrome case may have an overall societal cost of between $47,000 and $119,000, the study findings showed.
Carpal tunnel syndrome in the United States is estimated to cost more than $2 billion a year, mainly due to surgery, mental health treatment, and loss of earnings and productivity.
The report was published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome share similar symptoms, but they are distinct conditions affecting different nerves in the elbow and wrist.
If you’re experiencing pain and numbness in your fingers, you may assume you have carpal tunnel syndrome. But did you know another condition — called cubital tunnel syndrome — could also be the source of these symptoms?
Both carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome result from nerve compression; however, the damaged nerve for each is located in a different part of the body. In cubital tunnel syndrome, the ulnar nerve within the elbow becomes compressed due to injury or repeated bending of the elbow. The ulnar nerve sits inside the cubital tunnel, a passageway consisting of bone, muscle, and ligaments.
On the other hand, the compressed nerve causing carpal tunnel syndrome is the median nerve in the wrist. Repetitive motions of the hand and wrist (such as typing), fractures, and sprains are typically to blame. In addition, chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis are considered risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Despite some similarities — compressed nerves, hand pain, weakness when gripping objects — cubital tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome are characterized by several differences. Knowing the symptoms for each can help you identify which condition you may have and determine the right treatment.
Carpal Tunnel vs. Cubital Tunnel
Both syndromes affect the hand and fingers, but the pain, tingling, and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome is felt most acutely in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. It’s also characterized by pain and burning in the hand and wrist that sometimes radiates up the forearm to the elbow.
Meanwhile, cubital tunnel syndrome is marked by numbness, pain, and tingling in the little and ring fingers as well as the inside of the hand. If you have cubital tunnel syndrome, you may notice these symptoms flare up at night when you bend your elbow for long periods as you sleep.
Diagnosing cubital tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome begins with a physical examination. An orthopedist may also perform a nerve conduction study to assess nerve impulses in the wrist or elbow. Weak nerve activity in a certain area could indicate, for example, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treating the Symptoms
Treatment options differ for each syndrome, although conservative therapies are recommended at first to reduce symptoms and restore function to the hand. Because cubital tunnel symptoms are more pronounced at night, you might be advised to wear a brace that straightens the elbow while you rest. Wrapping your arm in a towel to keep it straight can work as well.
If conservative treatments fail to relieve the nerve compression or muscle wasting is severe, surgery is another option. Two types of cubital tunnel surgery are currently performed: a medical epicondylectomy and an ulnar nerve transposition. In a medial epicondylectomy, the bony bump inside the elbow (the medial epicondyle) is removed. This allows the ulnar nerve to flex and straighten without pain. For an ulnar nerve transposition, the surgeon creates a new cubital tunnel and moves the ulnar nerve to the recreated tunnel.
Treating carpal tunnel syndrome non-surgically usually entails resting the hand, avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, wearing a splint for several weeks, and applying ice to reduce swelling. Anti-inflammatories and steroids may also be prescribed. Once the pain subsides, you can practice exercises to stretch and strengthen the wrist and hand.
If these conservative treatments don’t alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms, surgery to relieve pressure on the median nerve by cutting the transverse carpal ligament may be necessary. This procedure is followed by physical therapy to strengthen the wrist.
What’s Causing Your Hand Pain?
If you’re experiencing hand and finger pain, you may be suffering from either cubital tunnel syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctors at Comprehensive Orthopaedics can diagnose your condition and prescribe the proper treatment regimen. Whether through conservative therapy or surgery, our goal is to help our patients live pain-free. Contact us today for an appointment.
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.