Most of us take for granted the ability to tie our shoes, start the car or open a jar. For those with arthritis of the hand, everyday tasks like these become overwhelmingly difficult.
About one in five adults has at least one joint with signs or symptoms of arthritis, which occurs when cartilage—a material that acts as a shock absorber for joints–becomes worn, damaged or lost. When this occurs, the body tries to compensate by producing fluid in the joint lining. Unfortunately, that leads to swelling, which restricts motion and causes more pain. Over time, the joint can lose its shape, causing additional pain and limiting motion.
Fortunately, physical therapy and acupuncture—in which tiny needles are inserted underneath your skin—can improve your quality of life. Here’s how:
- Acupuncture: A German study of more than 300,000 arthritis patients showed that people who received 15 sessions of acupuncture in addition to their usual medical care had less pain and stiffness, improved function and a better quality of life than those who had routine care. The improvements continued for three months after the treatments ended. Acupuncture seems to help arthritis sufferers by returning tight, shortened muscles to their resting state. It also may stimulate the release of the body’s feel-good brain chemicals known as endorphins, which can help reduce pain.
- Physical therapy (PT):We can give you exercises designed to preserve the mobility, strength and use of your joints. We can help relieve joint stiffness and pain; improve your range of motion; and increase your flexibility. We can also teach you how to reduce stress on your joints. For instance, you should carry a purse or briefcase with a shoulder strap instead of carrying it in your hands.
You might be given a splint, which is typically worn when your joint hurts. It helps ease stress caused by certain activities. Splints should be small enough to allow you to use your hand. Keep in mind, if you wear them for too long, they can lead to muscle wasting.
If you want to learn more about how physical therapy or acupuncture can help with hand pain, contact us here.