How do you control osteoarthritis in your hands?

By: Contributors

There are numerous effective treatment options to control osteoarthritis in your hands. Treatment should ultimately reduce the pain and swelling in your hands and restore hand functioning [source: ASSH]. First, try taking the over-the-counter food supplements called glucosamine and chondroitin for a two-month period. Numerous research studies show that these food supplements help reduce joint pain and swelling in individuals with osteoarthritis [source: Shiel]. You can easily find these supplements in pharmacies or health food stores. If your osteoarthritis is not well-controlled with this intervention, try the next line of treatment -- pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. Anti-inflammatory medication is sometimes referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

Before you rush to the doctor for a prescription, try over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication first, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen [source: Shiel]. You can also try pain-relieving creams, which can help alleviate some pain. If you don't get enough relief from the over-the-counter options, you can consult your physician regarding prescription pain relievers, such as narcotics. Beware, however: Pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication may present with significant side effects [source: NIAMS].


There are various effective non-pharmaceutical interventions as well. Your doctor may suggest that you wear a splint overnight and soft sleeves during the day to reduce pain [source: ASSH]. Preventing movement, especially when the joint is stressed, may help relieve pain. That said, you still need to maintain use of your hand as much as possible. Consult a physical therapist for appropriate hand exercises, as hand mobility and flexibility are essential for controlling your osteoarthritis [source: ASSH]. Both hot and cold remedies may help alleviate hand pain and swelling. In extreme cases, when pain and swelling reaches a point where you have limited hand use and mobility, surgery may be necessary [source: ASSH].