Lifestyle changes ease the pinch of hand pain

Posted on 10/06/2014

ASHT member Ellen Meekins shares joint protection tips with readers of the Fauquier Times in Virginia. Lifestyle changes ease the pinch of hand pain By Ellen Meekins Contributing reporter Photo by Creative Outlet Consider for a moment the versatility and the importance of our hands. Our hands enable personal expression of who we are and what we do. Michelangelo said, “It is well with me only when I have a chisel in my hand.” Yet our hands are vulnerable. Joint problems, such as arthritis, can have a negative impact on our ability to do our valued activities. The Arthritis Foundation reports 27 million Americans experience symptoms of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. With osteoarthritis, there is a wearing down or thinning of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones. Osteoarthritis can affect all the joints in the hand, but its toll on the joint at the base of the thumb is especially problematic. The cumulative impact of forces on this highly movable joint set the stage for pain and instability during resistive gripping and pinching. For example, pinch force is magnified at least 10 times to this joint. If it takes 5 lbs. of force to turn a car’s ignition key, the opposable thumb’s arthritic joint can become painful, experiencing 50 lbs. of pressure! This can lead to thumb stiffness, inflammation, and even deformity; bringing a halt to work and leisure activities. For the health of our intricate hand joints, it is wise to incorporate the principles of joint protection. These principles guide us whether or not we have arthritis. They include: *Respect pain. If an activity hurts, find another way to do it or get help. The mentality of “no pain, no gain” can have detrimental consequences on the hand. The rule of thumb is that if you have joint pain for more than two hours after an exercise or activity then you have overdone it. *Use the strongest healthy joint for the job. Don’t loop several heavy grocery bags in your hand to save a trip, instead use a paper bag and hug it close to your body. Read more