5 Ways to Manage Hand Arthritis

5 Ways to Manage Hand Arthritis

Hand arthritis isn’t just painful, it’s frustrating and debilitating because it interferes with your ability to do simple tasks. Our hand specialist, Peter G. Fitzgibbons, MD, at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists understands the complexities of hand arthritis and is ready to help when you need it.

Here are five recommendations he makes when it comes to managing hand arthritis and preventing the condition from undermining your quality of life


If you have knee or hip osteoarthritis, exercise helps keep the joints from becoming overly stiff and immobile. The same is true with your hands. 

Hand exercises that include opening and closing your fist and moving the fingers into the shape of a “C” can contribute to mobility, strength, and flexibility. 

And while exercise is important, so is rest. If you have a job or do regular activities that use your hands a lot, such as hairstyling or knitting, give your hands a break now and then, too. 

Use hot and cold therapy

A combination of hot and cold therapy can help release inflammation and relieve stiffness. Heat, for example, helps increase circulation and stimulates the production of joint fluid. A paraffin wax bath or warm towel wrapped around your hands is effective.

Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and pain. Apply a cold pack or refrigerated towel to sore, arthritic hands for 10-20 minutes at a time. 

Choose easy-to-wear clothing

Just getting dressed in the morning asks a lot of your hands. Trade in labor-intensive clothes for more hand-friendly options.

Choose slip-on or Velcro-strap shoes instead of laces. Skip button-up blouses and shirts and opt for over-the-head styles. Pants that have elastic waistbands give your hands a break from snapping, buttoning, and pulling up zippers. 

Change up your kitchen routine

Invest in a few items for your kitchen to make cooking at home easier. Choose lightweight pots and pans. Get kitchen utensils with large handles, and shop for a jar opener. 

These minor changes can reduce the stress on your hands and avoid aggravating arthritis pain. 

When you do cook, focus on anti-inflammatory foods. Fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats, like nuts and avocado, contribute to good health and can reduce inflammation that makes arthritis pain worse. Avoid processed foods, fried items, and added sugars.

Use a topical balm or cream

We are able to recommend over-the-counter creams and balms that can relieve pain in your hand joints. The skin and tissue around the finger and hand joints is thin, allowing for the benefits of these products to seep in. 

Check with us if you choose a product on your own because some topical products contain ingredients that can soak into your bloodstream and interact with medications you’re taking.

Proper at-home and medical management can help you deal with hand arthritis so it doesn’t prevent you from living your life and doing the activities that you love. 

Our team at Maryland Orthopedic Associates is ready to help. Call our Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland, office at 301-515-0900 or set up an appointment here to get a comprehensive hand evaluation.

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