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Guide to Wrist Arthritis Treatment

by Patty Weasler, RN September 29, 2021 0 Comments

Senior treating wrist arthritis

Wrist arthritis causes pain and stiffness that can significantly decrease your quality of life. Although there is no cure for wrist arthritis there are several treatment options that will minimize your symptoms. Here we will discuss wrist arthritis treatments designed to manage pain, ways to prevent additional arthritis damage, and your surgical options.

Ways to Manage Painful Symptoms

Wrist arthritis is generally caused by one of three types of arthritis--osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis. Managing the symptoms is similar to treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome and includes simple home remedies that support your wrist, yet allow you to continue enjoying your day-to-day activities. Always talk to your doctor to determine the best treatments for your wrist arthritis.

Arthritis Pain in Your Hands Too?

Compression

Compression is an excellent treatment in reducing swelling by encouraging blood return to the heart and reducing the space that fluid can build up in the tissue. A wrist support with a brace or splint will support your wrist joint, preventing it from moving while you sleep or during the day. Less movement will decrease pain and swelling. The brace will also provide compression and heat retention.

Another compression treatment option for arthritis of the wrist is arthritis gloves. These gloves will gently compress your hands but give you full mobility to perform daily tasks. They can be worn day or night to manage your wrist pain.

Do Arthritis Gloves Really Work?

How to Pick Out Arthritis Gloves

Heat Therapy

Heat is a noninvasive treatment that can be used just about anywhere to manage the symptoms of arthritis. Wrap your hand in a heating pad or warm towel to encourage blood flow to the area. With better circulation, there will be more oxygen and nutrients to promote healing. Use heat for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and avoid sleeping with a heat source on your skin.

When to Use Heat Therapy

Pain Creams

When you have arthritis of the hand or wrist the pain can become unbearable. Using several pain relief techniques is one of the best ways you can tackle the pain and enjoy your day. There are several types of pain creams on the market. They can provide a cooling or warming sensation or contain salicylates that reduce inflammation.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Anti-inflammatory medication like over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is an effective treatment for joint pain. Popular over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen are inexpensive and generally considered safe for most people. There are prescription medications that your doctor may suggest depending on the severity and type of arthritis you suffer from.

Decrease Activity that Exacerbates Symptoms

When you suffer from arthritis, everyday activities can cause pain and swelling. Try to avoid activities that cause pain and make changes in the way you move and do things to also keep the pain at bay. Incorporate dressing aids and ergonomic utensils to make unavoidable tasks easier on your wrists. 

Cortisone or Steroid Injections

A steroid injection is administered right into the wrist joint. The steroid medication will reduce inflammation, temporarily relieving wrist pain. Some people find relief after the first injection, whereas others will need more than one. These injections are not for everyone, talk to your doctor to find out if you are a good candidate for a steroid injection.

Ways to Avoid Further Joint Damage

With no known arthritis cure the focus should shift to preventing as much joint damage as possible. Here’s we’ll cover the steps you can take to make that happen.

Movement and Exercise

It may seem counterintuitive, but movement and exercise will increase circulation to your wrist and hands, prevent stiffness, and strengthen muscles. Many people with wrist arthritis will avoid movement all together which will ultimately cause a limited range of motion in your wrist. Incorporate wrist arthritis exercises and work with a physical therapist for additional guidance.

Wrist Exercises for Arthritis

Therapy Putty for Arthritis Pain

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

There is no specific diet that arthritis sufferers should follow. But there are foods that can curb or exacerbate inflammation within your body which can affect your arthritis. A diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and fish is a great choice for your overall health and for arthritis. Try to avoid processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. This type of diet is oftentimes called a Mediterranean diet and is known for its health benefits.

Wrist Supports

Braces, splints, and arthritis gloves are three types of wrist supports that are effective at treating the symptoms of wrist arthritis. Braces and splints work to avoid wrist movement which will reduce inflammation and pain around the bones of the wrist. Wear a wrist support while you sleep to keep your wrist in a neutral position or during the day if you are doing activities that might aggravate your wrist.

Choosing the Best Wrist Brace

Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most popular arthritis supplements. Glucosamine works to keep your joints healthy and reduces inflammation. Chondroitin seems to reduce pain and the need for additional pain medication. Omega-3 fatty acids are another excellent option for those with inflammatory arthritis. Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish or can be taken as a supplement. It works by managing the inflammation in your body. Always talk to your doctor before you begin a new supplement, to prevent any unintended interactions with other medications.

Surgical Options

When non-surgical treatments fail to provide relief then your doctor may suggest wrist surgery. There are several types of wrist arthritis surgery, which one your surgeon performs will depend on your symptoms, the severity of your condition, and the type of arthritis you have.

  • Wrist Joint Fusion

    A wrist fusion is a surgical procedure that fuses or connects all the wrist bones together to the forearm. While this type of surgery can get rid of the pain you will lose a significant amount of your wrist mobility making it a less than ideal option

  • Joint Replacement

    A wrist replacement removes the damaged bones and cartilage and replaces them with plastic or metal. Joint replacements allow more mobility than a fusion but the replacements can wear down over time

  • Joint Reconstructive Surgery

    During reconstructive surgery, the cartilage is cleaned and smoothed to remove bone spurs. Pieces of the arthritic bone may also be removed. This is a good option for those with mild to moderate osteoarthritis

Will Arthritis Ever Go Away?

Arthritis is a progressive disease that currently has no cure. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects both sides of the body equally. Whereas osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of everyday life. It’s important to see your doctor if you have wrist arthritis. They will be able to determine the type of arthritis you have through physical examination, x-rays, and blood tests. Once you know which type you have then your treatment plan will be catered to that type of disease.

Preventing & Relieving Symptoms

Wrist arthritis treatment is aimed at relieving pain, stiffness, and swelling. Treatment can begin at home with compression, braces, and activity modifications. If you find that home treatment is not enough then medical treatment with steroid injections or even surgery may be necessary. Though wrist arthritis cannot be cured, treatment can improve manage the symptoms making life much more enjoyable.

Sources:

https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/anti-inflammatory/the-ultimate-arthritis-diet

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/arthritis-of-the-wrist/

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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