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Have your Hands Full with Arthritis Pain?

ATI Hand Therapy offers tips for dealing with Osteoarthritis

Whether you’ve had a hand injury, or just some wear and tear after years of use, pain in your fingers and wrists can really put a damper on your life.  We need our hands for so many things, from writing and typing, to dressing and driving.  When those hands become a pain in the “you know what” sufferers can feel helpless.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage in the joints deteriorates, causing pain and loss of function when bone begins rubbing on bone.  The hand is one of the four most common locations in the body for arthritis to occur, caused from a previous injury, repetitive motion or age degeneration.  Symptoms include stiffness, swelling, pain and limited range of motion.  An accurate diagnosis of arthritis from a physician in needed to ensure proper treatment.

ATI Hand Therapy, a division of ATI Physical Therapy, features therapists specialized in the care of the hand and upper extremities, and offers arthritis treatments with a high success rate. Through the use of custom splinting, patient education, individualized home exercise programs, and modalities to help decrease pain, patients can receive long term benefits.

“We will individualize treatment depending on the type of arthritis, what stage it is in, and where the arthritis is located in the hand,” says Mary Anne Dykstra, OTR/L, CHT with ATI Hand Therapy. “Often, teaching various techniques to use hands differently, and reducing the stress from daily use, can be the most effective treatment. Educating patients on ways to decrease swelling, pain and often the fabrication of a custom orthosis (splint) is key to assuring they can continue to use their hands for many more years.” 

Dykstra also recommends making some changes to your daily routines to help alleviate symptoms:

• Give your hands a break before they hurt!  If you know you are going to do a task that is hard on your hands, perform stretching exercises thirty minutes BEFORE.  If you have pain during activity, stop the activity.

• Use both hands. When lifting or carrying objects, distribute the items.  Take several small trips to decrease the stress on your joints.

• Take a look at the items you use everyday.  Opt for a wide-barreled pen when writing, pumps for shampoos and soap, large cushioned handles on hair brushes, toothbrushes and scissors, grips for opening jars, and use electric can openers and knives when possible.

• Use your bigger joints for the job.  When you open a door, don’t push it open with just your hand. Lean into the door to use your shoulder/body to do the work.

• Avoid a tight, prolonged pinch/grip.  When possible keep your hand flat.  For example, keep your hand flat on a sponge when cleaning the counter or dusting instead of grasping it.

ATI Hand Therapy offers highly specialized treatments needed for the hand and upper extremities following injury, surgery, disability, and disease. Customized treatment plans are developed for each and every patient based on proven research techniques. Our goal is to help you regain maximum use of your hand or arm and reduce the risk of re-injury.

If arthritis in your hands is affecting your quality of life, visit any ATI Hand Therapy clinic to complete a Complimentary Screening. ATI will evaluate your symptoms and provide an assessment for your physician with options for continued care. Visit www.ATIpt.com for a location near you.