Arthritis doesn’t just affect people who are aging. It affects over 50 million Americans, both young and old.
In healthy joints, cartilage acts as a shock absorber, providing cushioning as the bones move smoothly over each other. Arthritis causes the cartilage to break down, leading to painful and debilitating bone-on-bone joint movements, bone spurs, and wear and tear on the joints. Hand arthritis can be diagnosed by a physician and managed through medication, exercises and lifestyle changes. There are also surgical options available if non-surgical options do not provide relief.
Genetics, age, gender and race all play a role in arthritis. While we can’t control those factors, there are steps we can take to help keep our joints healthy:
Protect Your Joints at Work and Daily Life
We spend a lot of our time at work. Take measures to be mindful of your joints, including:
- Using proper body mechanics when bending and lifting.
- Utilizing large muscle in your arm versus the tiny muscles and joints in your hands.
- Using a larger pen to write – the larger the pen, the less stress it puts on your small joints in your hand while writing.
- Sitting in a supportive chair.
- Making sure your elbows are at a 90-degree angle to the keyboard.
Stretch Your Joints Regularly
A minute or two of stretching each hour can go a long way. It helps prevent stiffness and pain, as well as gets the blood flowing through your joints and body. Stretching out your hands and wrists after working on the computer for 30 minutes is a quick and easy way to keep the stiffness at bay.
Play Hard—and Be Careful
Playing sports that involve a lot of wrist and hand movement – such as tennis, golf and volleyball—can impact your joints. Building up the grips on your tennis racquet or golf clubs will help you to put less stress on your joints. Wear a wrist brace for extra support if you need it. Low-impact activities such as swimming, water aerobics and cycling are also great joint-sparing activities to rotate in to your schedule.
Taking daily Vitamin D is an easy way to improve muscle movement and help fight inflammation. Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health and has been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
There are so many benefits to staying hydrated—and your joint health is one of them. Cartilage is made up mostly of water. When we aren’t hydrated, our cartilage gets dried out and is more susceptible to injury. Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water each day.
The St. Elizabeth Hand Therapy Center is the first step towards managing your hand pain. We will evaluate your hand pain and create a customized treatment plan to help get you back to your active lifestyle. A physician’s referral is required to be seen at the Hand Therapy Center.
We accept referrals from hand surgeons, family practice physicians, neurologists, occupational health physicians and many other types of medical providers. If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at email@example.com.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with our Hand Therapy Center, call (859) 301-5540.