If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, there is a good chance you first started to notice it in the small joints of your hands. Both inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis can cause pain, swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in your hands and fingers, which make day-to-day life a challenge.
If you are living with chronic pain, swelling, and stiffness, you are looking for some pain relief. That may come in the form of a pain cream or in the form of arthritis gloves.
Occupational therapists sometimes recommend these tight and often fingerless gloves to help symptoms associated with arthritis and make it easier to deal with your daily activities through day-to-day wear.
If you are still skeptical about using arthritis gloves, read on to learn how they may help make your computer scrolling fingers a little more comfortable and provide pain relief.
Arthritis or Arthwrongis?
If you suffer from arthritis, you are in good company. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this condition affects at least 54 million adults.
While it is very common, it is not well understood by most people. It is not just a single disease but an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, including osteoarthritis, inflammatory, infectious, and metabolic arthritis.
While you may think arthritis only affects your grandparents, it can and does affect people of all ages, sexes, and races. That being said, it does occur more frequently in women and the elderly.
Some of the common arthritis symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Symptoms can wax and wane and vary from mild to medium to severe.
Symptoms may stay consistent for years but can progress or get worse over time if left untreated. If arthritis is severe, it can result in chronic pain and the inability to do daily activities like walking or climbing stairs.
Arthritis can also cause permanent joint changes. Changes include visible ones that cause knobby finger joints, but most likely, the damage can only be seen with X-rays that show the bone and cartilage loss around the joints.
Some other types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, tendons, kidneys, and skin in addition to the joints.
You might be wondering, “How could wearing a glove on my hand help me do anything but stay warm on cold nights?” Glad you asked!
Arthritis gloves work just like any other compression sleeve by using several mechanisms. Thermal arthritis gloves warm the hand, which can make you feel comfortable and ease the pain. Heat therapies have long been used to improve thumbs, wrists, and hand function and decrease swelling of the joints.
Compression-focused arthritis gloves provide steady pressure to the affected area. This helps reduce swelling, particularly when you are having a flare-up in the fingers and joints that are feeling most uncomfortable.
The compression of these gloves on your body helps to reduce the swelling and stiffness due to the increased blood circulation to the areas. The same goes for thermal gloves.
The inspiration behind these kinds of therapies for discomfort is that increased circulation improves healing and eases the pain of arthritis symptoms. All of this can help make users feel more relaxed and calm while reducing symptoms.
Doctors recommend gloves to participants looking to manage pain and advise them to wear them several hours at a time if they want to see a change. Ideally, at least eight hours a day. So, if you keep them on overnight while sleeping, you might see a difference in swelling, hand pain, and joint stiffness.
Suppose you are looking to continue trying to enjoy daily activities like typing, writing, playing sports, or lifting things. In that case, compression gloves are a great way to mitigate pain and continue doing the things you love with complete freedom. The gloves can also help you grip things better, which might be helpful if you have lost grip strength due to arthritis.
Copper is King
Some of the best compression gloves make use of copper technology. These gloves combine the firmness and warmth of compression gloves with the therapeutic properties of copper to improve symptoms of arthritis.
These gloves are made with copper-infused fabric and are supposed to not only reduce pain but also stimulate oxygen delivery to the sore muscles. Copper compression gloves for arthritis of the hands are antimicrobial and antifungal, which can help protect you from other diseases.
Copper-infused gloves also claim to be anti-odor since the copper infusion fights sweat build-up. They are infused with 100% pure copper. Copper gloves are a newer entry into the compression glove market, but they have made a big splash.
These gloves will give you all the benefits of regular thermal or compression gloves with the added benefits of copper.
At Bulbhead, our gloves are made with spandex, copper, and a breathable cotton material.
I Glove You!
Trying to decide if you should give arthritis gloves a shot can be tricky, but there is almost no reason for you to not at least try them and see if they help.
What is really important when you do try compression gloves is making sure they fit correctly. You want to make sure the gloves are not too loose or too tight because then you won’t get the benefit of it.
If your gloves are too loose, they will not help increase circulation and alleviate the ache of your symptoms. If they are too tight, they may make the arthritis pain worse and leave you in even more discomfort. If they are too small on your hand, they might even lead to swelling.
If you already suffer from swollen hands due to arthritis, you may want to consider getting a size larger than you are normally so that the fit is comfortable. You might want to consider getting two pairs, so you can wear one in the winter and one in the summer if your swelling is tied to the weather or heat.
Again, make sure you wear your compression gloves for long enough. In order to get relief, you’ve got to commit to wearing them for extended periods and get used to doing daily activities with them on.
Some people think that they can wear their compression gloves for an hour or less and benefit from it, but that is not how they work. Wearing them to sleep is an easy way to make sure you have them on for eight hours (and you should be getting eight hours—getting good sleep can help reduce swelling as well!).
Additionally, you should try to keep them on during the day as well since they may help you perform daily tasks more comfortably.
Compression gloves generally have open fingertips and are lightweight. Fingertip access makes it easier to do everyday activities like using silverware, technology, or mixing while cooking. As long as you can do most daily tasks with them on, you should wear them during the day in addition to at night.
Glove the One You’re With
Compression gloves have very few cons. Maybe the only downside to wearing arthritis compression gloves is having to take them off and put them back on when washing your hands since you may have to be careful about getting them wet.
Wearing them during the day may also cause discomfort if it is hot outside or in your home. Since some arthritis gloves use warming to help the pain, you might want to save the thermal gloves for bedtime and use ones that focus on compression during the day.
Because arthritis pain and discomfort varies from person to person, it would be a good idea to try a few different pairs to see what works best for you. Save your receipts, though! You will probably be able to return gloves that you don’t find beneficial after you try them out.
Things to look for when shopping around: ease of use, ease of putting on and taking off, and that the glove allows you dexterity, so you have a range of movement when wearing.
Ask For Help
As with any medical equipment, you should check with your doctor or occupational therapist before trying compression, copper, or thermal gloves for arthritis. You want to make sure you don’t have any potential contraindications (reasons to not take a drug or therapy) to wearing gloves. An example of a contraindication would be carpal tunnel syndrome or Raynaud’s disease.
You should also be on the lookout for unproven fads that only serve to make these types of gloves more expensive. Some of these variants have no science to back them and only exist to take your hard-earned money. So be vigilant and do your research before deciding what pair to settle on!
If you are at all overwhelmed by your options, talk to your health care provider to get help picking out a pair of arthritis gloves. Again, the use of these gloves is widely practiced by occupational therapists as a rehabilitative treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. So, give them a shot and see if they work! There really isn’t anything to lose.
And come back to Bulbhead for more tips, tricks, and things you didn’t know you couldn’t live without.