Do you or someone you know wake up every morning with pain and stiffness in your hands or fingers? If you have arthritis, tendinitis or a repetitive stress injury, you probably have felt the aches and pains and know first hand the challenges that go along with these conditions. Rest, splinting/braces and anti-inflammatories are “well known” treatments that can help with the daily pain and stiffness. There are other therapies that you may not know about that can also answer the question “what can I do to help with the pain and swelling in my hands”?
Contrast baths, therapeutic gloves and exercise putty are a few other methods you can use to help reduce the swelling in your hands and joints? Here is some additional information on these treatments.
Contrast baths are a simple method that involves moving your hand(s) between bowls of warm water and cold water. The warm water acts to widen your blood vessels (dilate) and the cold causes them to get smaller (vasoconstriction). Moving your hands back and forth between hot and cold water, while squeezing a sponge or cloth, helps increase the blood flow and acts as a pumping action to move the swelling out of your hand and increase the circulation.
To Create a Contrast Bath
You will need:
2 bowls large enough to put your full hand into
2 small to medium size sponges or washcloths
What to do:
• Fill one large bowl with very warm, not hot water and one with very cold – not icy water. Place a sponge or washcloth in each bowl
• Starting with warm, plunge your hand into the water and gently squeeze the sponge for 2 minutes. Bend and straighten your fingers as fully as you can.
• Do the same in the cold water for 1 minute
• Return back to the warm for 2 minutes
• Cold for 1 minute
• Do 3-4 rotations ending with warm water
After the baths, you should experience some improvement in your motion and after a few sessions, the swelling should start to go down.
(It is recommended that you discuss this treatment with your health care provider before starting a new therapy.)
Therapeutic/Protective Gloves are another method that can help support your joints and minimize your swelling. Through mild compression, therapeutic gloves help to decrease pain and stiffness. Normally the gloves are designed to be tight fitting and are made of a nylon- spandex fabric. Most gloves can be worn during the day and night and can help to improve the circulation and add warmth to your hands. Protexgloves are designed to protect the skin and apply gentle compression to support your fingers while still allowing full use of your hands.
Exercise Putty is a third way to reduce the stress and pain in your hands. Light exercises with putty such as 3pp Exercise Putty, can help increase your hand muscle strength, range of motion and flexibility- which will help to lessen your pain and inflammation.
Here are a few examples of exercises that can be done with exercise putty:
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