James W. Dedmon, DC is a Chiropractics specialist in Nashville, TN.
Q: I think I am getting arthritis in my fingers. The knuckles are stiff and sore – especially when I first get up in the morning. What can I do to prevent it from getting worse?
A:What a great question! I actually have two answers for it. The somewhat expensive answer and the almost free answer.
When arthritis starts happening in the fingers and hands the best thing for them is gentle penetrating heat. There is a product that can be bought in drug stores called a paraffin bath machine. You put a special wax in the machine and it melts it at a very specific temperature. Daily use with both help to ease the pain and slow down the progression of the arthritis. Another, less expensive approach is to take a bucket or large bowl and dissolve ½ cup of Epsom salts into about ½ gallon of hot (not scalding) water. Soak your hands for 20 minutes a day. Please be careful not to burn yourself. For people with diabetes always consult your doctor before using either the hot water bath or paraffin machine.
Q: What are some natural remedies for pain management?
A: If the pain it acute, meaning short duration and or sharp in character, use ice. Place the ice over the painful area and leave it for 20 minutes. You can repeat in 40 minutes. This can be done for four or five hours. Remember to cover the ice pack with a kitchen towel to protect against frostbite. Avoid using heat because the injury is inflamed and heat makes that worse. If the pain gets worse during the day you need rest, if it gets better then gentle exercise like stretching or walking will help.
If the pain is over two days old and or dull in character apply heat directly over the pain and leave for 20 minutes. Remember that you can burn yourself with a heat pack so if it feels too hot add a layer of towel under the pack. It is important to never lean against or sit on a heating pad or you will be more likely to burn yourself. With this pain movement is key. Walking and stretching should give relief.
Q: How can I separate the psychological and physical aspects of my pain and how do I treat each part?
A: Pain causes depression and fatigue especially if it lasts for several days. As difficult as it may be, not focusing on the pain is important. If your pain has lasted for more than 4 days seek care for it. Go to your PCP (primary care physician) or Chiropractor for treatment. The act of looking for relief will help with the feelings of despair.
Q: What’s the one thing I can do each day to help manage my pain?
A: Exercise. Whether it be a walking routine, yoga class or stretching keeping your muscles healthy will help relieve your pain.
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