thank you

Menorah Park and Montefiore of Menorah Park are now one integrated foundation and will continue to honor the rich philanthropic legacy of all of our past benefactors.


Hand and Thumb Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies

Posted on 08/15/22 by Michael in Peter B. Lewis Aquatic Center

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and swelling limiting the mobility and functional use of the hand. Osteoarthritis affects the entire joint including the bone, cartilage, ligaments and joint capsule. In the hand, OA is most commonly found in the joints at the end of the fingers followed by the joint at the base of the thumb. Progression of the disease can produce joint pain, swelling, soreness and stiffness that inhibits performance and participation in daily activities.

Hand and Thumb Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies

Some of the recommended treatment strategies for hand and thumb osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint protection
  • Exercise
  • Using an orthosis (splint)
  • Heat and cold therapy

Hand and Thumb Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies

Joint protection

Studies have shown positive outcomes from joint protection programs, which include techniques for helping to reduce stress on the small joints of the hand that often occur while performing daily activities. Joint protection includes using alternate methods or modifying a specific task, such as using a book stand or using the voice to text feature on a smart phone. Joint protection also includes using assistive devices that reduce pinch and grip forces such as jar openers, modified eating utensils and spring – action scissors.


Therapeutic exercise can also be a beneficial treatment strategy. For the hand and thumb, these include joint active range of motion exercises, gentle strengthening exercises, and exercises that target the muscles that stabilize the base of the thumb. Exercises using heavy resistance should be avoided.

Using an orthosis (splint)

An orthosis may be used to provide rest, support and proper positioning for painful joints. Orthoses can be prefabricated and made from material such as neoprene or custom molded from thermoplastic material. Whether gentle support is needed for comfort or more rigid immobilization is needed for maintaining joint alignment, orthotic interventions are recommended based in an individual’s specific needs.

Hand and Thumb Osteoarthritis Treatment Strategies

Heat and cold therapy

Heat and cold therapy can be used to decrease pain, reduce swelling and increase or maintain motion. Hot packs, paraffin wax and cold packs are examples of superficial heat and cold modalities. As a general rule, heat therapy is used for relieving joint stiffness and cold therapy for reducing swelling. When using heat or cold therapy, be sure to protect your skin and use a barrier with the hot or cold packs.

If you are unsure which treatment strategies are best for you or need help starting an exercise program, working with an occupational therapist is an excellent place to start. For more information about occupational therapy for osteoarthritis or to learn more about any of our exercise programs, contact us online or call 216-595-7345.





American Occupational Therapy Association-

American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

American Society of Hand Therapists-

Arthritis Foundation-

Sign up for our newsletter to receive wellness resources, campus news and more.


Photo Gallery

1 of 22

Your download is waiting.

Enter your email address below to access this resource.


Would you like to receive resources on aging, campus news, and more?

Sign up now for the Menorah Park email newsletter.

No, thanks. Pleae don't ask me again.

Menorah Park + Montefiore

Learn about our expanded services and support.


We're here to help. Contact us now.