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Preventing arthritis in hands can make a dramatic difference in the quality of your life. There is no cure for arthritis so your best option is to prevent the disease or prevent its progression. There are simple steps you can take to prevent this debilitating disease from overtaking your life. In this article, we’ll talk about why prevention is important and the steps you can take to make a huge impact on the health of your hands.
Arthritis can cause a slew of symptoms, joint pain, swelling, and loss of function to name just a few. If you could prevent arthritis from becoming worse, or even better yet, from even occurring, why wouldn’t you?
There is no available cure for arthritis, so prevention is the best way to minimize the effects of arthritis pain. There are many simple lifestyle changes you can implement, like using assistive devices or changing the ergonomics of your job, which can prevent arthritis from becoming worse. Making these changes before your hand arthritis becomes severe will have the largest impact on the disease progression.
Osteoarthritis is one of the many types of arthritis. It’s the most common form of arthritis, most often found in older people. When you have osteoarthritis of the hands the cartilage that covers the bone edges breaks down. As the cartilage wears away, the bones rub against each other in the joint area. Once this happens, sufferers experience pain, swelling, and loss of function.
Risk factors fall under one of two categories. Modifiable and nonmodifiable. Modifiable risk factors are ones that you have control over, like weight and smoking. Nonmodifiable risk factors are those that you can’t change like genetics and gender. Here is a list of all the osteoarthritis risk factors so you can determine if you are at an increased risk.
The extra weight puts more stress on your body’s joints.
Overuse or joint injury can increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis.
Women are at a higher risk than men for developing osteoarthritis.
As you get older, your risk for arthritis increases.
Some Asian populations have a lower risk of developing osteoarthritis.
If you have a family history of arthritis you are more likely to also suffer from the condition.
If you begin to have arthritis symptoms, all is not lost. There are ways to prevent further function loss and minimize pain. In this section, we cover ways to prevent the progression of arthritis and how you can manage the symptoms with a few easy changes.
Kinesiology tape is similar to athletic tape but it is breathable, flexible, and can stay on your skin for days. It works in various ways by lowering pain, improving range of motion, and changing how you move your body. If using kinesio tape on your own makes you uncomfortable, a physical therapist can show you how to use it to support your affected joints.
Part of arthritis prevention is changing your everyday movements that place stress and strain on your joints. One easy change is to start using wide handled utensils and jar openers. With their wider handles and textured grips, it makes it easier for weak, arthritic hands to grasp.
Hand exercises can positively impact the development of arthritis in your hands, keeping your muscles and tendons flexible. Daily hand movement with your finger joints will encourage the body to make more synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints.
When you become aware of your daily activities you’ll find plenty of areas where you can improve to reduce joint damage and pain in your hands. Make simple changes like leaving your groceries in the cart to carry out to your car instead of holding them and carrying your purse on your shoulder instead of your hand.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system attacks itself causing swelling and pain. Since it’s caused by an overactive immune response it is difficult to prevent. But just like osteoarthritis, there are ways you can help lessen the pain and inflammation and strive to live a normal life.
Many of the risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis are ones you cannot control. However, there are a few you can. Take a look at the list of risk factors to find out if you’re at an increased risk for developing RA.
You are at greatest risk to develop rheumatoid arthritis if you are 60 years or older.
Researchers have found the more overweight you are the more likely you are to develop RA.
Researchers have found a specific gene linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
If you smoke you are placing yourself at a higher risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Women are two to three times more likely to develop RA than men.
You may not be able to completely prevent rheumatoid arthritis but you can limit its severity and progression. By limiting your modifiable risk factors and taking control of your own health you can find pain relief from the symptoms of arthritis.
Smoking places you at a 1.3 to 2.4 times greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Pair that increased risk with a couple of nonmodifiable risk factors and you are putting yourself at a significant risk every time you smoke.
Extra weight puts more stress on your joints. Carrying around extra weight might not directly cause your RA but it will definitely make it worse. Prevent unnecessary pain and discomfort by losing weight. All your joints will thank you for taking off the additional stress and strain.
If you are at risk or believe you have rheumatoid arthritis you need to stay in contact with your doctor or better yet with a rheumatologist. There are prescription medications that can help your hand pain. A rheumatologist will work with your specific situation to help you determine the best treatment options and prevent further progression of the disease.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two conditions that cause pain and swelling in the hands. Prevention is the best way to manage the symptoms and help you go on with your daily activities. Always talk to your doctor before you start any new treatments. How you choose to manage your hand arthritis pain is up to you but we hope that you take control of it and live your life to its fullest.