Reference: organizedwisdom.comHeat for Arthritis Cold Hand Pain
If you suffer from arthritis, here's information about the illness and ways to help relieve the pain. Arthritis may produce poor circulation in your hands. If you work at a computer and your mouse hand gets cold, it's wise to use a heated mouse. A warm mouse generates dry heat like a heating pad. This will promote better circulation to your cold mouse hand. The heat from the heated warming mouse will also loosen muscles and improve movement.
Heat relaxes the muscles and stimulates blood circulation. Dry heat, such as heat lamps, a warm mouse or heating pads, and moist heat, such as a heated washcloth, or a warm bath are good options for heat treatments.How Is Arthritis Pain Treated?
There is no single treatment that applies to all people with arthritis, but rather the doctor will develop a management plan designed to minimize your specific pain and improve the function of your joints. A number of treatments can provide short-term pain relief.Short-Term Relief
Medications—Because people with osteoarthritis have very little inflammation, pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol*) may be effective. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis generally have pain caused by inflammation and often benefit from aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).Heat and cold—The decision to use either heat or cold for arthritis pain depends on the type of arthritis and should be discussed with your doctor or physical therapist. Moist heat, such as a warm bath or shower, or dry heat, such as a heating pad (or USB heated warm mouse), placed on the painful area of the joint for about 15 minutes may relieve the pain. An ice pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables) wrapped in a towel and placed on the sore area for about 15 minutes may help to reduce swelling and stop the pain. If you have poor circulation, do not use cold packs.
Joint Protection—Using a splint or a brace to allow joints to rest and protect them from injury can be helpful. Your physician or physical therapist can make recommendations.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)—A small TENS device that directs mild electric pulses to nerve endings that lie beneath the skin in the painful area may relieve some arthritis pain. TENS seems to work by blocking pain messages to the brain and by modifying pain perception.
Massage—In this pain-relief approach, a massage therapist will lightly stroke and/or knead the painful muscle. This may increase blood flow and bring warmth to a stressed area. However, arthritis-stressed joints are very sensitive so the therapist must be very familiar with the problems of the disease.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are chronic diseases that may last a lifetime. Learning how to manage your pain over the long term is an important factor in controlling the disease and maintaining a good quality of life. Following are some sources of long- term pain relief.Long-Term Relief
Biological response modifiers— These new drugs used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis reduce inflammation in the joints by blocking the reaction of a substance called tumor necrosis factor, an immune system protein involved in immune response system. These drugs include Enbrel and Remicade.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—These are a class of drugs including aspirin and ibuprofen that are used to reduce pain and inflammation and may be used for both short-term and long-term relief in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. NSAIDs also include Celebrex and Vioxx, so-called COX-2 inhibitors that block and enzyme known to cause an inflammatory response.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)—These are drugs used to treat people with rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to NSAIDs. Some of these include the new drug Arava and methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, penicillamine, and gold injections. These drugs are thought to influence and correct abnormalities of the immune system responsible for a disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment with these medications requires careful monitoring by the physician to avoid side effects.
Corticosteroids—These are hormones that are very effective in treating arthritis but cause many side effects. Corticosteroids can be taken by mouth or given by injection. Prednisone is the corticosteroid most often given by mouth to reduce the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. In both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, the doctor also may inject a corticosteroid into the affected joint to stop pain. Because frequent injections may cause damage to the cartilage, they should only be done once or twice a year.
Other Products— Hyaluronic acid products like Hyalgan and Synvisc mimic a naturally occurring body substance that lubricates the knee joint and permits flexible joint movement without pain. A blood filtering device called the Prosorba Column is used in some health care facilities for filtering out harmful antibodies in people with severe rheumatoid arthritis.
Weight reduction—Excess pounds put extra stress on weight-bearing joints such as the knees or hips. Studies have shown that overweight women who lost an average of 11 pounds substantially reduced the development of osteoarthritis in their knees. In addition, if osteoarthritis has already affected one knee, weight reduction will reduce the chance of it occurring in the other knee.
Exercise—Swimming, walking, low-impact aerobic exercise, and range-of- motion exercises may reduce joint pain and stiffness. In addition, stretching exercises are helpful. A physical therapist can help plan an exercise program that will give you the most benefit. (The National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse has a separate fact sheet on arthritis and exercise. See the end of this booklet for contact information.)
Surgery—In select patients with arthritis, surgery may be necessary. The surgeon may perform an operation to remove the synovium (synovectomy), realign the joint (osteotomy), or in advanced cases replace the damaged joint with an artificial one (arthroplasty). Total joint replacement has provided not only dramatic relief from pain but also improvement in motion for many people with arthritis.What Alternative Therapies May Relieve Arthritis Pain?
Many people seek other ways of treating their disease, such as special diets or supplements. Although these methods may not be harmful in and of themselves, no research to date shows that they help. Some people have tried acupuncture, in which thin needles are inserted at specific points in the body. Others have tried glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, two natural substances found in and around cartilage cells, for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Some alternative or complementary approaches may help you to cope or reduce some of the stress of living with a chronic illness. If the doctor feels the approach has value and will not harm you, it can be incorporated into your treatment plan. However, it is important not to neglect your regular health care or treatment of serious symptoms.How Can You Cope With Arthritis Pain?
The long-term goal of pain management is to help you cope with a chronic, often disabling disease. You may be caught in a cycle of pain, depression, and stress. To break out of this cycle, you need to be an active participant with the doctor and other health care professionals in managing your pain. This may include physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, biofeedback, relaxation techniques (for example, deep breathing and meditation), and family counseling therapy.
The Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases Center at Stanford University, supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), has developed an Arthritis Self-Help Course that teaches people with arthritis how to take a more active part in their arthritis care. The Arthritis Self-Help Course is taught by the Arthritis Foundation and consists of a 12- to 15-hour program that includes lectures on osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, exercise, pain management, nutrition, medication, doctor-patient relationships, and nontraditional treatment.
You may want to contact some of the organizations listed at the end of this fact sheet for additional information on the Arthritis Self-Help Course and on coping with pain, as well as for information on support groups in your area.Things You Can Do To Manage Arthritis Pain
Eat a healthy diet
Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night.
Keep a daily diary of pain and mood changes to share with your physician.
Choose a caring physician.
Join a support group
Stay informed about new research on managing arthritis pain.