Treatment For Gout In The Hands

'The Hands Are Another Hive Of Joints That Gout Loves To Attack'

Does your toe swell with gout? Is your heel a pain with gouty arthritis?

We offer independent expert advice on specific treatments for gout in the foot. No vagueness, just specific advice for exactly how to treat a painful foot with gout.

This is part of our series looking at specific treatments for gout in detail. Not just listing ‘exercise’, but which exercises for each part of your body affected by gout? Where so many ‘big’ websites seek to offer generic advice that doesn’t help at all, we seek to get to the heart of the issue.

Treatment For Gout In The Hands – Background

Gout can attack any joint in your body. It is created when uric acid builds up in your body and the excess uric acid is converted to urate crystals.

These urate crystals then attach to your joint forming what are known as tophi (urate crystal attachments to your joints).

The result is what we know as gouty arthritis or gout. The result of a flare up is likely to be painful redness and swelling. So when we treat a gout flare up, it is typically done by trying to counter the swelling with some form of anti-inflammatory.

Preventing Future Attacks…

After the flare up however, treatment focuses on reducing the build up of uric acid that forms the urate crystals. This can be done by either reducing the amount of uric acid our body produces or speeding up the rate at which our kidneys get rid of it.

Since Gout is ultimately started by the build-up of uric acid, it really is a simple balance equation.

Unfortunately, your hands and fingers will always be a key target for gout as they are one of the cooler parts of the body (after your toes/ feet).

It has long been considered that urate crystals were much more likely to settle on cool joints, where the blood flow is slower and they are further away from your heart.

Given also the very functional use of your hands it is often almost impossible, in a practical sense, to rest your hands. This can make both pain and preventative treatment for gout in the hands rather tricky.

Swelling in the hand above the knuckle leading to ulceration that has ruptured.

Exceptions –

While we try to look at specific treatment for gout in the hands, it is not always appropriate.

Dietary changes or smoking for example, will make substantial changes to your gout prevention, but do not vary if you suffer with gout in your shoulder or your big toe!

For this reason, we have covered an exact list of the foods you should eat and those you shouldn’t in other sections (because not all fish are bad and not all vegetables are good).

Similarly, I have covered the drugs that can be used at length both for instant pain relief or long-term prevention in their respective articles. 

Drugs do not vary according to the area affected, so it would not be relevant to cover drugs here.  

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Treatment For Gout In The Hands – Pain Relief (During A Flare Up)

Furthermore, there are some similarities whichever area of the body we talk about. Foods that might control gout for example, are universal wherever you suffer with gout.

For this reason we have left drugs out of the list altogether – because we have their use extensively covered in other articles and because their use is universal, by which we mean it affects the whole body together, both for a flare or for prevention.

Ice Therapy.

Hands are probably one of the easiest areas of our body to keep cool. A bucket of ice water is absolutely ideal and if you want to give your gout pain an extra kick, try adding half a cup of Epsom salts.

Although clinical trials around the use of Epsom salts is fairly limited, the magnesium that will travel from the water to your hands, is supposed to do great things for bruising/ inflammation.

If you have really sore hands or fingers, it just might be worth trying.

Woman with a frozen cold pack on her wrist, while chatting on the telephone

Rest

Not easy with gout in the hands. Depending on your job, you could consider investing in one of the programs that learns your voice and transcribes your dictation in to letter form. This would save a lot of typing.

But most commonly, you’re just going to have to restrain from some activities for a while. Golfers will barely be able to hold a golf club with gout in the hands, knuckles or fingers. Fisherman may find similar issues with holding a rod and so on.

Depending where in your hand the gout is (if it is in your knuckles for example) a loose hand support can help. Just be careful not too put it on too tight and avoid if you get gout in your wrist.

The last thing you want is a minor trauma in your wrist because of the pressure from a wrist or hand support, this will not help your gout at all!

Raising The Affected Limbs

To be effective at reducing the painful inflammation your affected area would need to be raised above your chest height. This can be done periodically by just holding your hands up while sitting down or creating a sling to hold your arm up while resting.

Another option, particularly while in bed, is to sleep or lie on your back and use an exercise band (the stretchy ones with a loop on each end).

Feed the loop over both your arms and adjust the size so that it keep your arms comfortably on your chest.

This may seem a bit extreme and if your fingers are not affected then potentially just interlocking your fingers on your stomach/ chest may suffice. The goal is to stop your hands sliding down to your sides and therefore being lower (in height terms) than your chest.

When you are asleep of course, a stretchy band will do a better job as you wont have to worry about moving your hands subconsciously.

I should also emphasize this is only for during a gout attack, when the pain might otherwise keep you awake at night.

Drink Water

I have written about this at length in several articles. Along with dietary changes (in the preventative section), drinking water can help straight away.

Adding some lemon juice can make this even more effective.

I wont say anymore on here – but check this article for more information.

Supportive Equipment.

This really depends on which part of the hands are affected by gout. If it’s the finger joints for example, then little finger splints can be helpful (even two ice cream stick joined together with tape can provide similar support).

Finger splints will stop you from temporarily forgetting and bending your painful digits. If your injury is in your wrist, then a wrist support may be the answer (applied loose, so the fabric wont rub).

Other people like to wrap their hand in a cold towel – this not only protects your hand but if you change it regularly with ones stored in a bag in the freezer, can help greatly with the swelling as well.

Treatment For Gout In The Hands – Prevention

Exercise.

To specifically strengthen your hands and prevent future attacks there, you should consider getting some hand grippers.

These are cheap to buy but often recommended for various forms of arthritis – and in this case, gout is no exception.

Other options include getting a stress ball and squeezing for further hand flexibility and strength or taking on a number of hand exercises as will be included soon.

Gout affected hands exercising with special hand grippers

Dietary Change/ Giving Up Smoking

This is fairly universal as it’s designed to alter the uric acid levels in your stomach, thus affecting the build-up.

Whether gout is in your foot or your elbow, it won’t change and I go in to much more detail on diet in other articles on exactly which foods are good for you and why.

Mindful Remedies

Strategies such as ‘self-hypnosis’ or ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ can all be effective with any form of long-term pain relief.

However, this is particularly true when it concerns the hands, because you may not be able to avoid using them, so training yourself not to feel the pain can be a great idea.

The Final Word –

The hands are a particularly delicate, but essential tool in our daily lives. Gout in the hands can quickly and easily change your plans.

Treatment for gout in the hands vary slightly according to which part of your hands are affected, but a custom approach is required to achieve the best results.

Hopefully my suggestions have given you food for thought. If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond.

A Selection Of Other Articles On Gout...

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