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The pain in your fingers and wrists is a constant reminder of a disease that you can't get rid of. With the right combination of approaches to your arthritis treatment, you can live with this disease and minimize its effects on your life. Used with your doctor's prescriptions for anti-inflammatory and pain medications, here are some alternative approaches to aid in your assault on this painful illness.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Heat therapy helps loosen up stiff joints so you can use your hands more effectively. Wrap your hands in an electric blanket or use a microwaveable gel pad to warm them up. A paraffin dip for your hands puts a thin layer of warm wax on them which is then easily peeled off when it has cooled down. Warm up your hands before you do any detailed work with them such as cooking or working on a hobby.
Cold therapy reduces inflammation and pain in your joints. Wrap a frozen gel pack or a package of frozen peas in a towel and place it on your hands to get relief. Use cold therapy after using your hands for an extended period of time to ease the pain.
Tiny needles placed along various Chinese energy meridians on your body help reduce inflammation and increase circulation to your joints. Look for an acupuncture practitioner who specializes in treating arthritis.
Acupressure is a treatment related to acupuncture and uses the same meridian points on your body. Instead of needles, pressure from the fingertips is used to stimulate the energy centers to help your joint stiffness and pain. The acupuncturist may be able to teach you some of the acupressure techniques so you can do them at home for yourself.
A particular type of meditation, called mindfulness meditation, can be used to reduce your pain and help you better cope with it. This meditation directs your mind away from the pain so you become detached from it, but still aware that it's present. When in that meditative state, you can choose to ignore the pain so you can go about your normal daily activities without the pain distracting you.
A number of foods contain beneficial fatty acids, such as omega 3 and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). These substances reduce joint pain and stiffness in some people. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish, fish oil, flaxseed and walnuts. GLA is found in plant seeds from hemp, evening primrose and black currants. Talk with your doctor before adding anything to your diet to make sure it doesn't conflict with something else you are eating or your medications.
Some herbal remedies can give you relief from the pain and swelling in your hands and fingers. Again, talk with your doctor before taking any of these herbs.
Try one or more of these alternative approaches along with the treatment plan your doctor has prescribed. With the right combination of treatments, you'll be able to live with your arthritis and continue to have an active life.