Arthritic hands: what else may be the cause?
As the weather gets cooler it seems that our adult joints get stiffer.
We tend to blame our age or the cold, but reduced activity is likely the cause.
There are many studies that show movement is the most effective way to lower pain and improve function, without negative side effects.
Hands are no exception. As fingers swell and stiffen many people look to steroid creams or injections for help. These provide relief, but are not a long term solution.
Here’s another perspective on arthritis, and how Bridging® can help restore your hand function and strength.
When I hear someone talk about their stiff or weak hands, and then lament about how they are just getting old, this assumption makes me cringe.
Our clients with aching or weak hands chalk it up to arthritis and are thrilled when they find out we can help!
Age is not a disease, and neither is much of what we think of as arthritis
Just what is arthritis? The word describing swollen, painful joints derives from the Greek and Latin word for bone, and suffix meaning inflamed.
Arthro: meaning ‘of the bone’
itis: meaning inflamed or irritated.
How does a joint or bone get inflamed?
One word — stress!
Stress comes in two flavors: chemical and structural.
Over the years it is easy to stress the hands from repetitive motions or strenuous tasks. Thumbs are often stressed with smart phone function. Yes, this is a thing!
We can visualize the physical wear and tear, but we don’t often think of the chemical aspects of stress.
Chemical facets of stress
There are two primary types of chemical stress. Each can cause stress and inhibit repair, causing a vicious cycle of pain.
- Dietary inflammation: Some of the most prevalent are in our diets. Water puffiness from a high sodium diet, and acidic irritants from a sugar-filled diet.
- Hormonal inflammation: Plain old environmental stress kicks up stress hormones which irritate everything in the body. Another good reason to stay as calm as possible!
There is also stress from an overactive immune system. This type of arthritis is different, and you will be working with your rheumatologist to manage it.
The medical world primarily revolves around the chemical aspects of stress. Nearly all of the common treatments for hands involve one type or another of anti-inflammatory compounds, especially corticosteroids.
There is so much more to joint stress, and it can change!
Mechanical/structural stress — it’s a thing!
Fingers and hands are like every other part of the body. The bones line up and work the way the muscles move them. When the muscles are moving in sub-optimal ways, the bones transition poorly creating stress, swelling, and wear/tear.
The strength of the hands actually comes from forearm muscle interactions. If the transition across the wrist is compromised there is weakness.
Trying to recruit hand strength without help from the forearm can actually cause more joint stress. In some cases hand strengthening exercises may become counter-productive.
Why does arthritis seem to come with age or after an injury?
Ideally, mechanical stress happens here and there without incident, and the body’s ability to heal takes care of it.
Repetitive stress from specific tasks, or from years of build up often leads to the mis-alignment of the finger muscle coordination, thus causing mechanical stress.
Sometimes an injury throws an alignment off. How many times have you sliced something accidentally, or whacked a hand at a wrong angle, or jammed a finger? Over the years these add up!
The good news? Once we change the muscle function, the joint functions improves, and stress is removed. Fingers move better within days!
How Bridging® can also help
When hands are aching or weak no matter what you’ve tried, it’s time for a new approach.
With Bridging® there are a few specific ways better micromovement of the hand muscles can reduce stress, aches, and swelling.
- Restore the interconnection between fingers, thumb, palm, and wrist for the basic set of movements used in most tasks and activities.
- Restore the oppositional thumb positioning to allow the fingers to get proper grasp from the thumb.
- Restore the interconnections from the forearm to provide strength to the hands.
Our clients consistently see function improve as finger, hand, and arm muscles re-connect and function better. Bridging® puts the pieces together the way they are supposed to work!
The best part is that the change happens right away without having to do exercises at home.
Tired of aching and weak hands?
Complete our intake form and we’ll get in touch to explain how Bridging®can help your specific concerns. Relief is often just a couple sessions away!