Many people develop osteoarthritis, otherwise known as “wear and tear arthritis,” in their fingers joints as they age. Often clients I meet feel that nothing can be done for the pain and stiffness caused by finger arthritis, which I am always surprised to learn. Whilst there is nothing that I can do as a Hand Therapist to change the appearance of the finger joints on an X-ray, there is a lot that can be done to change the way a joint feels. This can have a great impact on the client’s hand function and happiness.

Pain Management Options

I find that almost all of my clients find their finger arthritis feels worse in winter, so one of best things you can do to relieve arthritis pain is to keep your hands warm. I recommend wearing gloves when out in cold weather, using heat packs when home and using the paraffin wax bath in my clinic which clients LOVE since it can provide warm, soothing relief! 

Paraffin Wax Bath
Paraffin Wax Bath

Sometimes one joint is very painful and sore, while other joints in the same hand are not. Small, supportive, custom-made finger splints can be made for the sore joint to be worn for aggravating tasks and to rest the painful joint overnight. Neoprene braces or finger sleeves can feel a bit softer and more comfortable to wear, whilst also providing compression and support. Compression can also be very smoothing for arthritic joints. There are so many different options, and every client is different. My job is to work out the best options for you. 

Sometimes your joints need rest and other times gentle motion and strengthening exercises can be helpful. Your Hand Therapist can assess your range of motion, pinch strength and grip strength to monitor your hand motion and strength overtime. You may be given some motion and strengthening exercises to maintain your finger movement and grip strength.

There is no need to ignore your finger arthritis pain as there are many management options that may help make your winters a lot less painful and more enjoyable.