US News & World Report recently shared results from a study on people’s lifetime chances of developing osteoarthritis in their hands.
As it turns out, roughly 4 out of every 10 people will experience arthritis in at least one of their hands. Different demographic factors also influence the likelihood – with a higher rate of hand osteoarthritis among women than men, for example.
What does arthritis in the hand look like?
With osteoarthritis, soft tissues and cartilage in the joints get worn away. Without the cushioning and stability these tissues provide, the bones in the joint start rubbing against each other; furthermore, bone deposits can develop.
People suffering from osteoarthritis in their hands may experience pain (sometimes quite severe pain), swelling, stiffness in the joints, and compromised strength and functioning. Given the wide range of activities for which people need their hands, this can prove debilitating, especially over time as the condition worsens.
What can you do to prevent osteoarthritis in the hands?
One finding from the study is that the risk of osteoarthritis in the hands increases among people who are obese. A nutritious diet and a physician-approved exercise program may work to decrease the chances of the body experiencing the kind of tissue inflammation that contributes to arthritis.
Another risk factor for arthritis in the hands is repeat trauma and wear-and-tear in the hand joints. This can result from jobs that use the hands intensely; it can also come about from sports and other activities that rely on heavy, repeated use of the hands and fingers.
Some people seem to have genetic predisposition to osteoarthritis, and may develop it earlier than usual. However, even with a genetic predisposition, healthier lifestyle choices and attention to hand health can help prevent, delay, or mitigate the condition.
Treatment options vary and depend on the severity of the condition. They include adequately resting the hands, taking anti-inflammatory medications, receiving steroid injections, adopting pain management techniques, and performing therapeutic exercises under medical guidance.
Your treatments are going to be personalized, tailored to your health and needs. As such, it’s important that you reach out to a medical professional to evaluate your hands and determine what will work best for you.