The sign of osteoarthritis of the hand that strikes ‘in the morning’

Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition

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There’s a possibility you could have osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis – if you struggle with stiffness “particularly in the morning”. The charity Creaky Joints elaborated: “Osteoarthritis can cause pain, stiffness (particularly in the morning), swelling, and tenderness of the joints in the hands.” Dr Kevin Wayne said: “Symptoms of osteoarthritis are typically worse in the patient’s dominant hand.”

The stiffness felt in the hand, however, can be fleeting, as the sensation could loosen up within just five to fifteen minutes.

Hand pain could also be an indication of Dupuytren’s contracture, Creaky Joints notes.

This is a “in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward”.

People who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing the condition.

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If hand pain is due to osteoarthritis, over time, extra bones at the joints – known as osteophytes – can develop.

Booking an appointment with your doctor is recommended if you suspect you have osteoarthritis.

As for pain management, Dr Wayne recommends “using a combination of both heat and ice”.

He explained: “Heat therapy is helpful in the morning to loosen up the joint, while ice therapy is best later after a day’s worth of activity.”

Dr Wayne also recommends patients with arthritis of the hands to work with hand therapists.

These medical professionals can suggest the use of assistive devices, which can provide a larger area for people to grip onto.

“For example, there are grips you can slide onto eating utensils and tools that make it easier to open jars and put on your socks and shoes,” said Dr Wayne.

Hand therapists can also recommend simple exercise to help you retain your range of motion in your fingers.

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Hand exercises

Creaky Joints recommend hand exercises for people who have osteoarthritis in their hands.

One exercise you could do to help maintain mobility of the joints is to “make a fist”.

The charity elaborates: “Start with your fingers straight and then slowly bend your hand into a fist.

“Make sure your thumb is on the outside of your hand. Don’t squeeze too tightly, then straighten again.”

Another exercise to try is “finger lifts”, which require placing your palm “flat on a table”.

Once in this position, you lightly spread the fingers and “lift each one slowly off the table, then back down before raising the next”.

Even making “C” shapes with the hands, as if you’re going to grab a little ball, can be helpful.

As can stretching “your hand in front of you, palm up. Then take each finger and move it very slowly to the centre of your palm. Hold it, then straighten”.

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