Written by Tara Tyrell.
When it comes to your hands, there are two types of arthritis – osteoarthritis, and arthritis.
Osteoarthritis generally affects older adults and simply occurs from using your hands so much over the years, also known as “wear and tear”. Whereas, arthritis is an autoimmune disease that commonly starts in the hands, but can move to other joints. It is where your immune system attacks its own joints… and it can begin at any age.
Though arthritis isn’t curable, research has found that early intervention can delay the onset, regardless of whether it is hereditary or lifestyle based. So, the earlier you can start to look after your hands, the less chance you will have of developing (or progressing) symptoms as you get older.
According to Dr. Jason Theodosakis, preventing arthritis is something you should actually be doing in our 30s and 40s. This is because arthritis can start well before you feel pain and there are a number of signs you can look out for. This includes:
- Limited range of motion
- Dull ache in joints, that come and go
- Warmth in the fingers and joints
- Cysts and;
So, what can you do to prevent arthritis in the hands?
If you notice some of the early symptoms mentioned above, you might be able to keep arthritis at bay with these suggestions:
- Maintain a healthy weight – This will help to reduce the load on your joints.
- Adapt your diet – The Mediterranean diet has been shown to help reduce symptoms of arthritis. It includes eating lots of chicken and fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and seeds; and cutting out processed foods and sugar.
- Don’t smoke or quit smoking – This will help reduce symptoms and allow your immune system to build itself up again.
- Be careful of how you lift things and use your hands – For example, if you are an avid gardener, ensure you use the proper tools to avoid strain on the fingers.
- Try supplements – Glucosamine and Chondroitin are popular supplements used.
And if you already have arthritis in your hands?
If you’re experiencing any discomfort as a result of onset arthritis in the hands, there are also some natural remedies you might want to try. Although these won’t help to prevent the disease itself, the following each have anti-inflammatory properties that may assist with any discomfort and help prevent the symptoms from getting worse. You can:
- Apply ice to your hands – This will help to numb nerve endings, dulling pain.
- Enjoy a warm mug of honey and cinnamon – Both honey and cinnamon contain healing properties which can relax stiffness.
- Massage olive or castor oil into your fingers and hands – This will help to reduce the inflammation.
- Increase your intake of garlic – This can either be in raw or cooked form to reduce pain and inflammation.
Because the cause of arthritis isn’t fully known, there is no cure. But if you’re concerned that a family member has it and you may be at risk of developing arthritis, or if you notice any of those early symptoms mentioned above, taking care of yourself should be a priority. The more you look after yourself before the symptoms progress, the better chance you have of an arthritis-free life!