Do Compression Gloves Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis?
If you ask someone who has rheumatoid arthritis what it feels like, you’ll get many different answers. The severity of pain changes daily. One day you can go on a run; some days, the burning or throbbing is so bad, it’s all you can think about. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it’s 2 to 3 times more likely in women than in men, and it can present itself at any age, even in childhood. With the ebb and flow of pain, it’s not only physically, but emotionally taxing for those that live with it.
How is rheumatoid arthritis different?
The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis (OA). It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees when the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone changes, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. It’s the “wear and tear” arthritis, so changes in the body develop slowly and get worse over time, usually as we get into older age.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body. In the case of RA, your immune system attacks the joints and damages them. The lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage that can cause chronic pain, instability, and can cause misshapenness as well. Life with RA is a challenge for sure, and there is no cure. The good news: it can be managed with good treatment.
How can you live with rheumatoid arthritis in your hands
Rheumatoid arthritis in the hands is especially excruciating, as any sufferer knows because we use our hands for almost everything we do. With RA, just tying your shoes can be painful. A recent Reuters study states that the lifetime risk of hand arthritis is 40% of the population - so four in ten of us will probably be faced with the hand pain, finger pain, swelling, and stiffness in our hands that comes with rheumatoid arthritis. Not only does this bring distress and inconvenience to everyday life, but this kind of hand pain also makes working a challenge, making it the leading cause of work disability among US adults, according to the CDC.
The good news: RA in the hands doesn’t have to stop your life. There are ways to lessen the pain and inflammation that don’t involve medications and surgery.
Topical medications provide short-term pain relief and are ideal for the hands; they reach where joints lie just below the skin. Generally, they are pretty safe but still carry potential side effects and may interact with other medications. Oral medication such as steroids most often have side effects as well. Sometimes RA in your hands gets so severe that you can no longer work, surgery may be suggested. There are a couple of things sufferers can try that may keep RA at bay by reducing inflammation and supporting joints that don’t involve meds or surgery: 1. occupational therapy to help strengthen the joints in the wrists and fingers, and 2. wearing braces, splints, and compression gloves.
So what are compression gloves?
Compression gloves offer an easy-to-use, natural, non-invasive, and medication-free option to RA sufferers to support healthy circulation and prevent inflammation that causes joint pain. They may also provide pain and swelling relief for the wrist and the hand. Compression gloves work by lightly squeezing the veins in your hands to support healthy circulation and prevent inflammation that can cause joint pain. Some gloves have compression fabric that extends beyond the wrists, with open-fingers that make it easy to feel everyday items without too much constriction to provide pain and swelling relief for your entire hand and wrist.
Many people report that compression gloves make daily tasks much less painful. An eight-week crossover study in which the effect of a compression glove worn during sleep was compared to a loosely fitting glove made of the same material showed that the compression gloves can improve hand symptoms. They had a beneficial effect on hand swelling, specifically with morning stiffness, pain, nighttime throbbing, numbness or heaviness, and a subjective assessment of swelling.
Another proposed theory as to why RA pain can be reduced by glove-wearing? The glove’s warmth causes skin and joint temperature to increase, which then increases the blood flow. The increase in blood flow reduces pain by supplying oxygenated blood and nutrients to the inflamed tissues, providing better healing and having a possible positive effect on the symptoms of pain and swelling.
For those suffering (sometimes lifelong) from rheumatoid arthritis pain, help is out there. Try an all-natural option for pain relief with compression gloves.