Prescription Medications and Surgery for Arthritis in the Hands
There may be times throughout your treatment of osteoarthritis that your rheumatologist will suggest a course of anti-inflammatory medications (most common are called NSAIDs, which is like a prescription strength aspirin), pain relieving medication, or prescription strength pain patches or creams.
Each osteoarthritis medication has its own benefits and potential side effects, so be sure to talk with other people on your treatment team to see if these paths are right for you.
Depending on the progression of your osteoarthritis, surgery may be an option to alleviate pain. Bone spurs are bony growths that can develop as your body’s way of trying to help, but they can become painful if developed too close to a nerve. There are procedures where the growth may be able to be removed or decreased to aid in pain management.
The other two types of surgery for osteoarthritis in the hand are joint fusion and joint replacement. Your orthopedist will be able to determine which one will work best given your medical history and current pain symptoms as well as range of motion and weakness.
- Joint fusion is performed to alleviate pain by fusing the bones together at the joint. It will not be able to move anymore, but if there was a significant loss of motion already it may be a viable option. Work out a plan ahead of time for how to adapt to the limited motion to help ease the recovery process.
- Joint replacement removes the damaged joint and using an implant in place of it. These surgeries can be highly successful in regaining mobility. After any kind of surgery, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for physical therapy. If you aren’t consistent, recovery could be more difficult and last longer than it needs to.
Keep Your Chin Up
Chronic illness can leave you feeling isolated when you need to rest or change your plans because of managing osteoarthritis. It will help your mood to stay connected with people as much as you’re able to either in person or online.
There are forums and groups designed to help you on this challenging journey. Sometimes talking to someone who specifically knows what you are going through can provide a great deal of stress relief.
Creating time in the day to exercise even for a short time will boost your mood and keep you flexible. I know it’s not easy, and there are times when gentle stretching may be all you can do some days. The more time you can carve out to participate in a physical activity you enjoy, the more it will help your OA symptoms.
If your favorite activities involved your hands, don’t worry that you have to give them up entirely. Look for ways to modify how you do them or for how long. Instead of twenty or thirty minutes at one time, try breaking up the task every ten minutes and give your hands a rest. If you can’t find a solution that works, bring it up with your orthopedist or physical therapist and see if they can provide some suggestions specific to your needs.
Be Kind to Yourself
Even with the best efforts of you and your medical team, there are going to be times that feel overwhelming and frustrating. Be sure to give yourself a break if you’re having a bad day and focus on what you are still able to do.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, and with some time you will adjust to the ups and downs along the way. Just hang on for the ups when you’re down and have a blast when you’re feeling your best.