Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects all the joints of the body and, often times, the first joints that are affected are the wrists.
Pain, inflammation, and eventual loss of strength can occur.
Steps can be taken, however, to manage rheumatoid arthritis wrist pain and avoid the loss of function that could otherwise result.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Wrist Pain & Tips On How To Control It
When rheumatoid arthritis sets in, both wrists may become swollen, red, and very warm.
You may have difficulty bending your wrists back.
Stiffness will occur, usually in the morning, and it may take a couple of hours to work that stiffness out.
When rheumatoid arthritis becomes advanced, the wrists may become deformed as the bones lose their ability to move against each other.
These deformities affect the biomechanics of your hands, compromising your ability to grasp and carry objects, open doors, hold a pen, and many other tasks.
Keeping your hands ready for functional tasks can be difficult, especially when wrist pain radiates to your fingers.
Here are some tips to follow to keep your wrist and hands moving:
- Complete stretching exercises every day. Warm your hands and wrists up first in warm water or with heat packs to reduce stiffness. Be sure to stretch your fingers as well as your wrists, since the tendons that move your fingers run across your wrists. Do not stretch if your wrists are inflamed and painful, and do not complete exercises that make your wrists hurt.
- Adapt your work tasks to take the pressure off of your hands and wrists.
- Use large handled utensils and grips on pens and pencils
- Put a padded steering wheel cover on your car to help cushion your grasp while driving
- Use electric appliances while cooking and adaptive devices like jar openers, bag carriers, and key holders
- Alternate heavy and light tasks throughout your day and make sure to take rest breaks when you need to. Vacuum the living room, then take a 10 minute rest break, then sort the mail, and so on.
- If your health care providers have prescribed wrist splints for you to wear, use them. You might feel that they are inconvenient, but they are helping to keep your wrists and fingers in alignment so that you can continue to use them. If you do not feel that your splints fit properly or if you are getting sores from them, contact your health care provider to have them adjusted.
- If your hands are just too sore, rest them. There are very few things that are so important that they must be done immediately.
These tips can help you keep rheumatoid arthritis wrist pain under control.
An occupational therapist can help you with these tips and give you more ideas to help you preserve your hand function.