Hand Therapies For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Hand Therapies For Rheumatoid ArthritisThe human hand can perform various exacting activities with its 29 joints and a complex network of ligaments, muscles, and tendons supporting it.


An Unpleasant Life

However, if a person has arthritis, even the easiest of tasks such as typing or turning pages can become challenging and painful.

The primary treatment for rheumatoid arthritis of the hands involves good medical management. In addition, occupational therapy interventions such as adaptive aids and splinting may be prescribed to decrease deforming pressures on the hands and maintain movement. Finally, in case there is joint damage, surgery may be an appropriate solution.

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Bram Kaufman provides hand surgery and various other procedures to patients in Beachwood, Pepper Pike, Cleveland, OH, and surrounding communities in The Heart of it All.


Medications and Injections

The drugs that a patient takes for pain relief and arthritis control for the entire body are vital to controlling swelling and preventing damage to the hand joints.

According to the severity of arthritis and other aspects, these medications may include disease-modifying antirheumatic meds (DMARDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

In case these treatments are not entirely successful in controlling the inflammation or the inflammation is impacting only one or a few joints. corticosteroid injections may also be a suitable option. These drugs are akin to a hormone that the body produces naturally and can be injected directly into the impacted joints to alleviate inflammation.


Splinting and Devices

Injections are usually administered in combination with splinting to support and reduce stress on the impacted joint as well as to prevent the development of deformity. Some splints are designed such that the patient can use their hands while wearing them.

But the patient should wear a splint only as instructed by their occupational therapist as immobilizing joints for extended periods can cause wasting of the muscles that support them.

Regardless of whether the splint is specially fitted or readymade, this is only one type of therapy offered by occupational therapists. They also educate patients on methods of performing tasks that cause less strain on the impacted joints as well as devices and tools that help ease pressure on the joints.



Occupational or physical therapists can also inform the patient on strengthening and stretching exercises that may help relieve pain and improve mobility.



If conservative treatments are unable to relieve symptoms or the inflammation is persistent and leads to joint deformity or tendon rupture, the patient may be prescribed surgical treatment.

Surgery for common hand problems include:


  • Silicone Metacarpophalangeal Joint Arthroplasty (SMPA): This involves replacing the compromised joints at the finger bases with prostheses developed from silicone to address pain, deformity, and reduced function.
  • Arthroscopic Wrist Synovectomy: In this surgery, the membrane lining of the wrist joint is removed to reduce the pain and stiffness in the wrist due to persistent swelling.
  • Tendon Transfers: This procedure involves the replacement of tendons which have sustained damage due to inflammation with healthy tendons to restore the function of the hand.
  • Wrist Arthrodesis: In this surgery, the wrist is immobilized using rods, plates, or pins to stabilize it and offer pain relief. This procedure is commonly called joint fusion and may also be performed to stabilize the thumb in case the tendon that allows the flexing of the thumb ruptures.

Devoted cosmetic surgeon Dr. Bram Kaufman receives patients from Beachwood, Pepper Pike, Cleveland, OH, and other towns and communities in the majestic state of Ohio for hand surgery.
To learn more about cosmetic treatment and procedures or to schedule a consultation by Cleveland Ohio area plastic surgeon, Dr. Bram Kaufman, please contact us at 1-216-778-2245 or click here.

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