Wrist arthritis is common in older adults. Often, it develops as the result of a past trauma or fracture, but there are simple steps that can reduce pain and increase function.
* Apply heat, cold, or both. An electric heating pad or warm water soaks can ease pain and stiffness. An ice pack or cold water soaks can reduce pain from a flare-up caused by too much activity.
* Contrast baths can also be helpful. Soak hands in warm water for 10 minutes. Then switch to cold water for one minute. Or cycle back and forth for half an hour and end with warm water.
* Apply a topical prescription pain reliever gel like Voltaren or Solaraze.
* Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and Advil have the lowest risk of side effects.
* Wear a splint to limit movement during a wrist-intensive activity.
* If pain persists, ask your doctor about anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injections.
When severe pain is unresponsive to other treatments, some surgical techniques are available, including total wrist replacement. Wrist fusion can help younger people with advanced arthritis, but the trade-off is loss of joint mobility.