The medical community puts a lot of emphasis on the joints health; however, some of the joints are forgotten that may create challenges into your daily routines. Cooking, gardening, and typing on the keyboard can become hard activities if arthritis affects your hands, becoming a constant source of pain.
What osteoarthritis represents?
This is a disease that affects the cartilage (the bone connector) and appears when the top layer of the cartilage deteriorates and the bones starts rubbing together. This causes inflammation, joint stiffness, pain, limits the strength and mobility, and joint deformities. Spurs may develop at the edges of the bones as well as at small pieces of the bone and cartilage can break off into the joint space, increasing the pain and speeding up the deterioration rate. This condition may worsen over time.
This is what causes this condition:
- Joint injury;
- Being female;
- Old age;
- Being overweight;
- Stress on joints caused by some jobs and sports;
- Genetic defect in joint cartilage;
- Not properly formed joints.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease and thus there is no cure for it, but there are things that can be done in order to relieve the symptoms and slow down the process. Those are:
- Tai chi yoga;
- Occupational therapy;
- Physical therapy;
- Prescription and over-the-counter pain meds;
- Moderate exercise;
- Dietary supplements;
- Steroid injections;
Pay attention to your food
Certain foods facilitate arthritis development and worsen its symptoms. Such products are dairy, red meat, some fruits, and vegetables like tomatoes, citrus, and eggplant. Thus, you have to pick ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties to ease the pain and reduce general inflammation in the body.
Stretch it out
In addition to a proper diet, stretching exercises can be great in reducing pain and increasing the strength and mobility of the joints. For optimal results soak your hand in hot water for about 10 minutes and perform the following exercises so that you can relax your muscles and tendons for a deeper stretch. The exercises can be done underwater in a hot bath with some Epsom salt. In this way the stress will be minimized.
- Thumb bend – put your hand be straight and the fingers stretched and start bending your thumb in the direction of the palm, stretching as far as you can. Try to reach the pinky. Hold like that for couple of seconds and then release. Repeat the same procedure 10 times.
- Make a fist – this is great for very stiff joints. Start by spreading your fingers and making fist very slowly. Keep the thumb over the fingers. Then, relax your hand and open it slowly until the fingers are straight once again. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Finger lift – use a flat table to place your hand and make sure your palm is faced towards the table. Raise each of the fingers, one at a time, and hold for couple of seconds. After that release slowly. Repeat this exercise as many times as you wish.
- Make an “O” – hold your hand at the high of your chest and bring the fingers together so that you can make a figure “O” with the thumb and index finger touching. You should have a visible circle. Hold like that for couple of seconds and then release, repeating the exercise for 3 times, at least.
- Finger bends – straighten your hand and bend your thumb toward the palm of your hand, holding for couple of seconds. Then, release to the beginning position and after that, bend your index finger toward your palm, holding for couple of seconds, and finally release. Repeat the same exercise with each finger.
- Wrist stretch – if you stretch the wrist you will get a fuller range of motion, thus extend your arm with the palm of the hand pointed downward and place the fingers of the other hand over those that are stretched, pushing gently upwards, and then pulling back. Flex the wrist. Hold for couple of seconds and release. Repeat it 10 times. The wrist can be stretched in the other direction by placing the opposite hand on the top of the one that is stretched. Push gently in order to bend the hand down and hold like that for couple of seconds, then release.
- Table bend – use a table to place your hand with the pinky-side edge hand touching it. Start bringing your thumb up as well as the rest of the fingers in order to make a “thumbs up” sign, pressing your fingers into the palm. Hold like that for a few seconds and then straighten the fingers, repeating the exercise 10 times.
- Fan and fist – straighten the fingers and spread and stretch them slowly to form a fan. Hold like that for couple of seconds and then start contracting the fingers in order to make a gentle fist, holding for 5 seconds. Afterwards, release and repeat the exercise 2 times a day.