How to Manage OA in Hands and Feet
Osteoarthritis comprises more than one hundred diseases and is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage breaks down between the joints. What results is pain, swelling, and stiff joints. This condition can keep an OA sufferer from doing many things that s/he used to enjoy. It can be frustrating and disheartening for the person who is afflicted.
There are ways to manage OA in the hands and feet so that you can still get out and enjoy the activities you used to. Here are some tips on getting your life back:
- Exercise. Exercising the joints and muscles will help increase range of motion and help with flexibility. Avoid any type of activity if your joint is tender, injured, or inflamed since you don't want to aggravate the condition. Never overdo exercise where you are sore even two hours afterwards.
- Work toward a healthy weight. Excess body weight adds stress to feet.
- Eat healthy. Try to eat more vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. If you know there is a food or foods that aggravate your arthritis, don't eat them. Omega 3s are a good antioxidant to include in your diet as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Rest as needed. Rest when you are fatigued. Arthritis can make people prone to muscle weakness so take a nap or rest.
- Don't do things that aggravate the condition: Don't carry a clutch purse, and use a device that opens the jars without requiring use of your your hands in a twisting motion. The more you avoid straining your hands, the better.
- Spread the work over two hands. Instead of carrying something heavy with one hand, use two.
- Use heat for pain relief. You should invest in a paraffin warmer if you do not have one. This allows you to put your aching hands into a warm paraffin soak where it adheres to your hand, all the while penetrating the joints with warmth. You just peel it off when it cools. A warm bath or shower is another way to offer warmth to your hands and feet. A hot pack or heating pad works, too, but make sure it doesn't get to hot and burn your skin. If you are diabetic, avoiding such burns while using a heating pad is really important.
- Cold packs for dulling pain. It may decrease muscle spasms. If you have poor circulation, it is not recommended to apply a cold pack.
- Wear shoes that support your feet. Wear comfortable, cushioned shoes that support your weight.
- Practice relaxation. You may want to give guided imagery a try, or perhaps deep breathing exercises. Anything that promotes muscle relaxation will help alleviate pain.
- Keep a positive attitude. You are charge of your disease, not vice versa.
- Use supportive devices as needed. Use braces or other health aides that will help you maintain an active lifestyle.
- Medications. Be sure to take them regularly so that you stay on top of the pain.
- Topical pain relievers. You can use any over-the-counter topical medications that help arthritic pain and help reduce inflammation.