Features December 2007 Issue

How to Treat, Prevent Hand Pain

Arthritis of the hand often comes with aging. But there are steps you can take to regain function and ease discomfort.

Arthritis of the hand can be a source of great frustration. As swelling, pain, and stiffness worsen, tasks like tying a shoelace or buttoning a shirt, which once involved a few seconds, can now take a lot longer. Some tasks, such as unscrewing a tight-fitting lid or threading a needle, can be nearly impossible. "Hand arthritis is a common problem that comes with aging," says Jeffrey Lawton, M.D., a hand surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, "and it can be accelerated by hand-intensive hobbies and occupations." The good news is that joint-protection measures combined with hand exercises can improve grip strength and hand function.

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