How do you control osteoarthritis in your hands?

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].