A hand swimming laps in an icy pool

I Feel It in My Fingers

Our hands are such important tools in our daily lives. We use them to look after ourselves, earn our livings, love our children, and prepare their meals. Having psoriatic arthritis attack my hands this winter passed has really created such a challenge for me. In the past, it has shown face once or twice but not like this year. This year the pain was debilitating.

The stiffness and pain I experience can be felt in all the joints and in particular in my fingers. I can now tell you exactly where each little joint is.

Which finger symptoms do I experience?

Let's start with what I don't get that everyone else seems to experience. I do not get swollen fingers, the very telltale sign, I do not get it at all. No sausage fingers, I almost have a complex about it, however, I am grateful that for now, I am glad to avoid it.

The things that I do experience, which may only seem like 4 things, do however affect my days greatly.

It is important to remember that we all experience things differently. We do not always experience things the same way, it can be so individualized. This does not take away from what you go through when you have psoriatic arthritis.

How do I treat the psoriatic arthritis in my hands?

Ice bucket dips: Despite it being really cold in winter this has been such a helpful tool. It is easy to use on your hands and quick to do. I usually dip my hand in for about 10 minutes at a time, if I am unable to hold on for the full time, I will do it in smaller sessions. I do repeat this a few times in the day.

Heated hands: Warming my hands can be an effective way to ease the pain of psoriatic arthritis, while it seems in contradiction to the ice bucket dips they can both be helpful. I have often also used heat treatment alongside ice treatments, alternating the two and bringing great relief.

Compression gloves: These are an absolute godsend. Compression gloves are so soothing and easy to use in winter. I used them when I feel my hands are in a lot of pain,  and also in tasks that I know cause me pain or are likely to cause me pain. I do not wear them constantly and I do not sleep with them.

OTC painkillers: Under the management of my doctor I take some OTC pain relieving medication. I also have to take some anti-inflammatory medication when it gets really bad. Importantly, I try to only take these when it is absolutely necessary. NSAID medication is very helpful but I am not too keen to get any long-term effects from taking them. I already have liver issues so I try and make sure that I only take any medication if it is really required.

How often do I check in with my doctor?

Oftentimes because I am so accustomed to living with pain, it takes me a while to remember that I still need to check in with my doctor. It is important though to check in and if you see what you are doing is not working, circle back to them. It is worth making an appointment and following up from time to time.  My doctor is quick to remind, me that I need to see him more often, and that I should not try and do this on my own.

It would seem that even when the winter is done, there is still no relief in sight. Do you have any tricks to manage psoriatic arthritis in your hands?

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