Wrist brace for arthritis

While there’s no cure for knee osteoarthritis, a combination of strategies can help relieve your pain and keep you active.

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Although the cornerstones of treatment are exercise and physical therapy — and pain medications and steroid injections are also options — you can also try knee braces, shoe inserts or simply wearing more supportive shoes.

“Knee braces can be helpful for managing your pain,” says physical therapist Dawn Lorring, PT, MPT. “The location and severity of your symptoms will drive which brace works best for you.”

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage (that’s the cushioning material that covers the ends of bones in joints.) This causes pain and stiffness.

In the knee joint, arthritis can occur at any of three points where the bones come in contact:

  • Underneath the kneecap.
  • Between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) on the inside of the leg.
  • Between the thigh and shin bones on the outside of the leg.

Types of knee braces

Sleeve braces. People who have mild pain or stiffness that limits their activities can try a sleeve-type brace. These provide compression, which can reduce swelling and warm the joint. This might relieve the stiffness.

These braces also provide added support. “If your knee feels unsteady or wobbly, a compression-type brace can be helpful, Lorring says. Some of them have plastic stays or a hinge on the side, which provides a little more support. She recommends getting one that has an opening at the knee cap.

Sleeve braces aren’t covered by insurance, but they are relatively inexpensive, ranging from $10 to 100.

Web brace. A more advanced brace is a sleeve with silicone webbing over the front. As you bend and straighten your knee, the webbing tightens in certain areas. This provides extra support to the knee.

A regular sleeve brace provides compression all over. “The brace with the webbing also provides guidance for how the knee cap moves,” Lorring says.

This type of brace might be the most helpful for someone with osteoarthritis beneath the knee cap. A web brace costs about $100.

Unloader brace. When arthritic changes are between the femur and tibia, a device called an unloader knee brace may help, especially if one side is more arthritic than the other. These have a metal band that goes around the thigh and another one around the calf, connected by a hinged bar. This creates a frame that can be adjusted to shift pressure (unload) from one side of the knee to the other.

“If the inside of your knee hurts, the brace can be adjusted to put more force on the outside of your knee, unloading weight off the inside,” Lorring explains.

These are less beneficial if your arthritis symptoms are similar on both the inside and outside of the joint.

Unloader knee braces are expensive ($500 to $1,000), but they can be covered by insurance. You’ll need a doctor’s prescription and documentation that it is medically necessary.

Shoes and inserts. Various foot problems (like high arches or flat feet) or just the particular way you walk can affect the alignment of your body. That might be putting more pressure on your knee joints. You may get some relief by choosing better shoes or wearing shoe inserts (also called orthotics).

Because everyone is different, there’s no universal advice for shoes or inserts. Lorring recommends consulting a physical therapist or an expert in foot mechanics who can observe how you walk and help you pick out shoes or shoe inserts that match your needs. “I encourage people to look at running shoes because there are more support options,” she says.

“The goal with orthotics is to make sure your foot is moving in the best way it can so your knee isn’t getting more force than it should,” Lorring says. There are a wide variety of shoe inserts and heel wedges that you can buy in a drug store or online. You can also get them custom made or save some money and get semi-custom ones. Like with shoes, you need to get inserts and wedges that are specific to your needs.

“You can have an insert that doesn’t add much arch support but it adds cushion, which can be beneficial if you walk on the outside of your foot,” Lorring says. “However, if your foot rolls inward too much, you may need more arch support.”

You can get heel wedges that are sloped in one direction or the other, which is similar to the action of an unloader brace. It shifts pressure from one side of the knee to the other.

“Ultimately, you have to find what works for you,” Lorring says.

This article originally appeared in Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Advisor.

Wrist Arthritis

The wrist is a very complex hinge joint that consists of 15 bones between the forearm and hand. When there is inflammation-the body’s natural way of trying to protect itself-anywhere in the wrist, it’s called wrist arthritis. There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis, but when it occurs in the wrist, it’s usually due to either osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis.

What Causes Wrist Arthritis?

The 15 bones that make up the wrist include eight small bones within the base of the hand, the two bones of the forearm (radius and ulna) and the five lower bones in our hand (metacarpals). These bones all meet to form individual joints, which are connected by ligaments and surrounded by articular cartilage. This cartilage serves as a protective barrier between bones and prevents them from touching each another. In arthritis, the articular cartilage thins and wears away, which causes bones to rub too closely or directly against one another.

Wrist arthritis most commonly affects those over the age of 45 and nearly always means either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis is present. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, usually occurs due to normal wear and tear of the joints in the wrist. This is why it’s most common in older adults, but other risk factors include wrist injuries, infections and repeatedly performing too many wrist movements. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body, especially the joints. Autoimmune means that the body attacks its own healthy tissue, even though it poses no danger, and this causes inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis typically begins at a younger age-approximately 20-40-in smaller joints like the wrist and hand, and its causes are unknown. Both types of arthritis occur more frequently in women than men.

What are the Symptoms?

The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the wrist. This pain usually gets worse when performing movements like turning a door handle, opening a jar or during gripping sports like tennis and golf, but it may be relieved with rest. Some patients will also experience swelling, tenderness when the wrist is touched, or lose their ability to move the wrist well. As a result, the pain and loss of motion can lead to weakness in the wrist, which makes it difficult to perform certain tasks. Symptoms are mainly similar in rheumatoid arthritis, but there may also be some stiffness in the morning, general discomfort, and pain and swelling in the knuckles as well.

What is the Treatment?

For some people, pain from wrist arthritis will eventually go away if they avoid certain painful activities. In other cases the pain can get much worse and cause serious complications. This is why it’s important to see a doctor if you’ve been experiencing pain and other symptoms in the wrist for a while. The doctor will perform a physical examination, ask you a series of questions and use some tests to help determine what’s causing the pain. An X-ray may also be used to distinguish between different types of arthritis, and blood tests are given in some cases to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. If wrist arthritis is found to be present, treatment will most likely be conservative (non-surgical), and your doctor will usually recommend the following:

Education and Activity Modification

If certain activities make your pain worse, you should limit or stop them; your doctor will help you find ways to adjust certain activities so you can perform them, but with less pain.

Immobilization

Using a splint, support or brace to protect the wrist and prevent it from moving too much, and can help relieve symptoms; the DonJoy Wrist Wraps and ComfortFORM Wrist Support are for this purpose and may be recommended by your doctor.

Ice/Heat Therapy

Your doctor may instruct you to apply ice or heat to the wrist for a certain period of time to reduce pain and swelling.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can help create a treatment program for your wrist arthritis that will likely include the above interventions, as well as massage, stretching exercises and strengthening exercises.

Medications

For rheumatoid arthritis, treatment must also include the use of medications that slow down the progress of the disease.

Cortisone Injections

If pain is constant-even at rest and/or at night-cortisone injections may be recommended; this is a powerful, anti-inflammatory medicine that’s injected directly into the wrist to relieve symptoms

Surgery

When these measures fail to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, surgery may be needed. The surgical procedure for this condition is called carpal tunnel release, which opens up the carpal tunnel in order to relieve pressure on the median nerve. Physical therapy is often needed after surgery as well to help restore strength and modify habits that led to symptoms in the first place.

Can Wrist Arthritis Be Prevented?

Although wrist arthritis often develops for reasons we either don’t understand or don’t have control over-like aging-there are some ways to reduce the chances of developing it. Here’s how:

  • Try to avoid or limit the amount of time that you perform repetitive movements of the wrist, such as using vibrating tools
  • Take regular breaks when performing any activity that requires wrist movement and stretch your wrist(s) thoroughly
  • Perform exercises to help you build and maintain the strength of your hands and wrists; a physical therapist can help guide you with this process, which may include the use of therapeutic putty or hand therapy balls

Support & Protection for Wrist Osteoarthritis

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Hand & Wrist Braces

Hand and Wrist Braces at Walgreens

You use your hands to accomplish so many tasks every day. Until you suffer a medical condition or injury that affects your wrist, hand or fingers, you may not fully appreciate just how much you rely on your hands. If a condition or injury is making it difficult for you to function at your best, your doctor may recommend that you use a brace for your wrist or hand. Walgreens has many options to meet your needs.

Solutions for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A common condition, carpal tunnel syndrome affects many people and occurs when there is too much pressure on a specific nerve in the hand called the median nerve. This pressure decreases the passage of nerve impulse signals to the thumb and fingers, resulting in symptoms like tingling, pain or numbness. If your doctor has diagnosed you with carpal tunnel syndrome, he or she may recommend that you wear a special brace. In some cases, you may need to wear the brace only at night. Your doctor may also recommend that you wear the brace when doing certain activities, such as typing on a computer. Brace options for carpal tunnel syndrome include special gloves that help to reduce pressure on the median nerve as well as more traditional braces that support the wrist.

Braces for Arthritis Sufferers

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition in which the lubrication and padding of the joints gradually breaks down. Many people develop osteoarthritis in the fingers, thumb or wrist, leading to pain and stiffness. There are many treatments available for arthritis of the hand or wrist. Some people benefit from wearing braces as a sole means of treatment or when used along with other treatment methods. Braces can provide support for the affected joint to lessen pain. They may also make it easier for you to perform certain tasks.

Using Braces for Injuries

Wrist and hand braces may be recommended for certain injuries, including sprains. Braces are also often prescribed after some surgical procedures to the hand or wrist. The purpose of braces after surgery or following an injury is to decrease the mobility of the joint in order to promote healing. In these instances, the brace may need to be worn throughout the day, during sports or exercise or while using a computer or doing other tasks that require rapid movements of the hands.

If you are experiencing pain, numbness or other symptoms of discomfort in your wrist or hand, it is important that you consult your doctor before trying to address the problem with any type of hand or wrist brace. Your doctor can perform an examination and possibly order tests to uncover the cause of your symptoms. He or she will then recommend a full treatment plan to address your symptoms. While a brace may likely be included in this plan, there may be other interventions required to address your symptoms. Your doctor will provide you with recommendations regarding the type of brace that you should wear, how often you should wear it and for how long. It is important that you follow his or her instructions and that you purchase a brace that is the correct size for your hand or wrist for best results.

This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking any over-the-counter medication as they may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking these products. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects not only bones and joints, but can also affect organs. With RA, the immune system goes awry and attacks the tissues and fluids around the joints that keep them healthy and mobile. Unlike osteoarthritis where the cartilage wears down in the joints, RA affects the lining of your joints, causing painful swelling, especially in the small joints of the feet and hands.

Rheumatoid Arthritis affects more than two million people in the US and is three times more common in women than in men. In some cases, RA may be hereditary; but, in most cases, experts do not know what causes the disease.

SYMPTOMS OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

  • You have pain and swelling in your joints, particularly in the small joints of your hands and feet

  • Your joints hurt and are stiff in the morning and you may feel warm to the touch

  • You feel extremely tired and may have lost weight

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

If you show symptoms of RA, it is important to see your health care provider as soon as possible. While there is no cure yet, your doctor can prescribe drugs that can help slow it down. Regular exercise, applying heat packs and cold compresses, and learning relaxation techniques are also helpful in treating RA symptoms. Since deformity in the fingers is a common problem in RA, splinting your fingers can help stabilize and support your fingers, improve hand function, and reduce pain as well

Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in Hands

  • Splinting can stabilize the hand joints and limit further deformity. There are several different types of braces, including smaller braces that stabilize individual knuckles and larger ones that stabilize the wrist and hand. Splinting has become less common, in part because finger and wrist joint replacement surgery has become more common.
  • Finger and wrist joint replacement surgery has advanced in recent years. This surgery is not a cure but a treatment for patients who have lost hand function due to deformity. During the procedure a hand surgeon will remove the damaged bone surfaces of the joint and replace them with prostheses made of metal and plastic.
  • The sooner steps are taken to prevent joint damage the better the chances for avoiding hand deformities.

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    In This Article:

    • Hand Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
    • Hand Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Signs and Symptoms
    • Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) in Hands
    • Hand Rheumatoid Arthritis Video

    Tips for People with RA Symptoms in Their Hands

    Rheumatoid arthritis can limit hand dexterity and make everyday tasks difficult and painful. Below are some examples of tools and shortcuts that can help relieve stress on the joints and make some tasks easier.

    • Wear coats and shirts with zippers instead of buttons.
    • Long zipper pulls are larger than regular zipper pulls, making them easier to grasp. Some specialized zipper pulls are made with looped cloth or nylon that allow the user to stick a finger through and pull up or down.
    • Choose lightweight cooking and gardening tools that are easier to hold.
    • Buy slip-on shoes to avoid having to tie shoelaces.

    People may find additional ways to customize their home and routines that help them work around the pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis of the hand.

    • See Lifestyle Factors and Fatigue Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

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    There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but symptoms in the hand and wrist can be managed with medication, physical therapy, splinting, and—in some cases—surgery.

    Treatments for Osteoarthritis in Hands

    While there is no cure for osteoarthritis of the hand, patients and doctors can devise a plan to relieve hand pain and restore function.

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    DIY moist heat packs are an effective way to do at-home heat treatment on arthritic hands.
    Watch: Video: How to Make a Moist Heat Pack

    • Occupational therapy can strengthen the joints in the wrists and fingers, improve hand dexterity, and protect joints from further degeneration. For many patients, hand exercises can be the most cost effective treatment option.
    • Periodic rest can give joints as well as the tendons in the hand a needed break. For example, people who type at a computer may need to take regular breaks or divide their work into regular intervals, working for just two or three hours at a time.
    • Heat, either warm compresses or paraffin wax hand baths, can soothe affected joints. By warming the viscous joint fluid contained in each joint capsule, heat can help maintain hand flexibility.
    • See When and Why to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint

    • Splinting can stabilize and support the hand joints. There are several different types of braces, including smaller braces that stabilize individual knuckles and larger ones that stabilize the wrist and hand. Some people find braces to be too cumbersome or rigid to wear all the time, and may choose to use snug sleeves instead. Bracing at night can prevent pain from interrupting sleep (commonly seen in carpal tunnel syndrome).
    • Topical pain medications can temporarily alleviate hand pain. Most of these pain relievers come in the form of topical creams, balms, gels, or patches, and are sold over-the-counter. Certain other topical products require a physician’s prescription.
    • See Topical Pain Relief for Arthritis

    • Oral pain medications can temporarily relieve hand pain. People with osteoarthritis often use oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. However, long term, everyday use of these medications can cause damage to the stomach and cause other negative side effects.
    • See Pain Medications for Arthritis Pain Relief

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    • Alternative medicine treatments, such as acupuncture, dietary changes, supplements, massage, and chiropractic manipulation1 may ease pain and relieve arthritis symptoms in the hands as well as other joints. These treatments are generally not well-researched but do seem to work for some people.
    • See Alternative Treatments

    • Steroid injections can provide temporary pain relief for some people. However, these injections are not recommended for repetitive, long-term use, because they can weaken tendons and ligaments.
    • See Cortisone Injections (Steroid Injections)

    • Viscosupplementation is a treatment that attempts to reduce pain in the affected joint by injecting a viscous, lubricating substance called hyaluronic acid. Viscosupplementation is not a common treatment for hand osteoarthritis, but is occasionally used, particularly if arthritis affects the base of the thumb.
    • See Hyaluronic Acid Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis

    • Surgery is not usually needed to treat hand osteoarthritis. Surgery is not a cure but a treatment option for people who have severe hand pain or have lost significant function due to osteoarthritis and who have not had satisfactory results from other treatments. Two common surgeries for osteoarthritis in the hand are:
      • Joint fusion fuses two bones together. The goal of this surgery is to eliminate the source of the pain, but the joint will no longer move.
      • Finger and wrist joint replacement involves surgically removing the damaged cartilage and bony surfaces of the joint and replacing them with prostheses. These prostheses are typically made of metal and plastic.

      A hand surgeon can describe the potential risks and benefits of these surgeries and help decide if surgery is appropriate.

    Ultimately, many factors will influence what type of treatment a doctor recommends to a patient with hand osteoarthritis, including:

    • Which hand joints are affected
    • How many hand joints are affected
    • The severity of the joint damage
    • The patient’s age and lifestyle
    • The patient’s overall health (for instance, does he or she take medications for other medical conditions?)
    • The patient’s preferences

    There is no known cure for hand arthritis, but treatments can help manage symptoms and help slow down or prevent further degeneration.

    In This Article:

    • When Hand Pain Is Osteoarthritis
    • Risk Factors for Hand Osteoarthritis
    • Recognizing Osteoarthritis in the Hand
    • Treatments for Osteoarthritis in Hands
    • Hand Osteoarthritis Video

    Tips for People with Arthritis in Their Hands

    Arthritis limits hand dexterity and makes everyday tasks more difficult. Described below are several ways people can help relieve stress on their hand joints and make some tasks easier.

    • Wear coats and shirts with zippers instead of buttons.
    • Use long zipper pulls, which are also larger than regular zipper pulls and therefore easier to grasp. Some specialized zipper pulls are made with looped cloth or nylon that allow the user to stick a finger through and pull up or down.
    • Choose lightweight cooking and gardening tools that are easier to hold.
    • Buy slip-on shoes to avoid having to tie shoelaces.

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    People may find additional ways to customize their home and routines that help them work around the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis of the hand.

    • 1.Hulbert JR, Osterbauer P, Davis PT, Printon R, Goessl C. Strom N. Chiropractic treatment of hand and wrist pain in older people: systematic protocol development. Part 2: cohort natural-history treatment trial. J Chiropr Med 2007; 6(1):32-41.

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