When Osteoarthritis Pain Strikes Hands and Feet

A look at what works-and what doesnt-to ease pain and improve your mobility.

If you worry about osteoarthritis (OA), chances are youre thinking about problems in your knees or hips. But recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that hands and feet are also commonly affected. Close to three million U.S. women and men age 60 or older have symptoms of hand arthritis, and nearly 4 percent of women and 2 percent of men ages 15-74 have symptomatic osteoarthritis of the feet. Like knee or hip OA, "osteoarthritis of the hands and feet is due mainly to wear and tear from overuse over the years," says Brian Donley, MD, director of Cleveland Clinics Center for Foot and Ankle Surgery and editor-in-chief of Arthritis Advisor. However, Dr. Donley advises, some simple steps can reduce or eliminate the pain associated with these conditions, improve your mobility, and increase your ability to function. In the hand, osteoarthritis most often develops at the base of the thumb, where it can cause carpal-metacarpal (CMC) arthritis, an especially painful and debilitating form of the disease, according to Dr. Donley. Other commonly affected joints are the end joint closest to the finger tip (the distal interphalangeal, or DIP, joint) and the middle joint of a finger (the proximal interphalangeal, or PIP, joint).
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