Doctors treat the symptoms of arthritis in the hands through oral or injected medications, supportive devices, topical applications and surgery, according to WebMD. Sometimes occupational therapists or physicians assign exercises. Rest is recommended in certain cases.
Physicians prescribe arthritis medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, states the Arthritis Foundation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, address both symptoms. People respond differently to NSAIDS, so experimentation is sometimes needed to find the one that works best for an individual. High doses or long-term use of drugs increase the chance of a blood clot, heart attack or stroke.
If different medication is needed, doctors often use corticosteroids, the Arthritis Foundation reports. Chemically, these drugs are much like cortisone produced by the human body. Taken by mouth or injected, corticosteroids tend to produce fast results.
Arthritic joints in the hands are supported by splints or soft sleeves at night or during activities, says WebMD. By limiting range-of-motion in the fingers, splints help reduce pain, Healthline explains. It is also possible that splints retain bone alignment, which delays hand deformities.
Arthritis sufferers also find relief from capsaicin cream, advises WebMD. Capsaicin gives hot peppers their bite, and at first, the cream stimulates pain signals; however, following the initial use, pain signals decrease. Depending upon the individual, cold applications or the use of warm paraffin also help. If arthritis causes severe pain or extremely limited flexibility, surgery is an option. Surgeons sometimes fuse bones together, but in other cases, surgeons replace the joint with an implant.