Although medical treatment is not able to cure arthritis or repair joint damage, people with arthritic hands should see a doctor to relieve pain and improve range of motion, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Physicians offer medications or surgery to enhance the quality of life of people with arthritis.
Arthritis treatment depends upon the extent and progression of the disease, according to AAOS. The patient's age, general health, activity level, goals and ability to stick to a treatment regimen are also considerations. Another important factor is whether the arthritis is in the dominant or non-dominant hand.
Physicians often recommend anti-inflammatory drugs, which relieve both pain and joint swelling, AAOS says. Some, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are available over the counter, reports the Arthritis Foundation. If these do not bring relief, a prescription for another medication is an option. In addition, certain drugs sometimes have serious side effects, such as increased risk of blood clots. Doctors should monitor their use.
If medications are not appropriate, physicians sometimes prescribe injections containing anesthetics and steroids, AAOS advises. Although their effects continue for many weeks, doctors do not used them continually because of potential side effects, including weakening of the tendons or infection. If other treatments are unsatisfactory, physicians consider surgery. Fusion of bones in the affected area is an option; replacing the joint with an implant is another remedy.