Painful hands

hello I just wondered what people do for hand pain. I have sore joints all over but my hands are causing me the most pain at the moment. I don't have noticeable swelling or redness but my knuckles and next joints are throbbing so bad. They actually feel like they have both had heavy weights thrown at them. It's a real bruised throbbing toothache type pain. My question is along with pain killers is there anything else I can try. I've seen those gloves that have the magnets in do they help? I'm not good at taking pain killers if I'm honest and try to avoid them until it gets unbearable. I've not really suffered too much with my hands until know. It's such a deep pain it's getting to me now.

31 Replies

  • Sorry to hear you're in such pain . I know when my hands are swollen I use compression gloves at night. This helps with the swelling and offers some comfort, allowing me some sleep. During the day, I sometimes use splints, particularly when lifting things, hoovering etc.

    Youve maybe tried all this.

    There are many knowledgable people on this site that will be able to offer further advice. I hope you get something to help soothe them soon.


  • Hi there I use cold bandages that have a regular place in my freezer hope it helps eg heat to cold and cold to heat

  • If my hands are swelled or sore I found that using an old fashioned crepe bandage that has been under the cold water tap and bind it round your hand. Usually eases it for a while, but would imagine leaving the bandage for a while in the freezer is even better. Must give that a go.

  • My friend the frozen peas usually works alternated with heat pads. 20 mins each and Naproxen of course. I'd suggest a call to the RA department as well. Good luck and hope the pain goes soon.

  • on a morning I fill my hand basin with very hot water I put my hands in it i just soak them in there and it soothes the pain I think it helps a lot but the best thing afterwards is to use splints or crepe bandage it helps when you need to hold stuff gives you that support without the pain. Hope these tips help.

  • I've had night splints custom made by Occupational Therapy at the hospital. I've used them for a couple of weeks and find they really help. Also they do hot wax treatments on my hands when I go to see them. There's only one way to describe the treatment - HEAVEN.

  • I also hold a cold gel pad on them or I fold kitchen roll into four length ways wet it then freeze it to use wrap a dry peice kitchen roll wrap around hand

  • I have fingerless gloves supplied from the hospital. I don't have swelling either,but boy do i get pain. I put mine in a bowl of hot water as hot as i can stand,it helps short term.xxxxxx

  • Hi. My hands were the starting point of RA for me. Really difficult to Manage and still not right after a year of treatment. Often wish I could take off my wrists and hands to have a rest from them But they are better than they were - down to the drugs I guess

    Have tried hand Physio but can only manage a little before my hands kick off. Still think worth it to keep them moving. Best thing has been buying my own hot wax bath. (Amazon - about £80 ) It is such a beautiful feeling. Get referred to Physio if u can specifically for your hands. They will show you the exercises and do a hot wax bath for you hopefully. You can then find out if it suits you.

    Always amazed at the idea of cold treatments - I cannot bear my hands getting cold but I know it is a classic treatment.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks for the tips everyone. I shall give them a go.

  • Try taking cod liver oil tablets- I had pain everywhere but more in my hands found it difficult to pick things up, may just be coincidence but since taking the oil have found that a lot of the creaks and groans have gone still have pain in hands but not as bad.

  • Hi Amoarten,

    Sorry to hear your hands hurt.

    Heat is comforting, hot water or wheat bag, hot water bottle etc, but ice is very good . Wrap your hands in a damp cloth then put a bag of frozen peas on or under them for 20 mins. Put a warm blanket over the top and after the initial shock it's okay, 'onest. Afterwards move them as much as you're able, bending and opening your fingers, making a fist as far as you comfortably can. Exercise is so good and will help relieve the pain and keep the movement you have and regain some too. Always check this with your doc if you're not sure but the above is what medics have advised me over the years.

    I do hope it helps.

    PS Mark the peas and refreeze for next time you need them ....DO NOT EAT THEM! Ha-ha

    Love, Legs x

  • Inflamation suggests you need cold but what saved my sanity in the early hell of Ra was a heated wheat pad and hot water bottle. Good luck.

  • Oh it's so helpful to read the posts and replies. My hands are agony but because they are not swallowed o red I just thought I was loosing the plot, I can't stand them being cold but I'll give it a go to ease the pain. Thank you Amhoarten For posting.

  • You can always get support here which is amazing. I say my hands hurt and people look at them as if to say well can't see how they don't look sore. This I find is one of the hardest things with RA. Just because you don't physically look sore doesn't mean your not. The way my hands feel I would expect them to be double the size and really red and hot, but nope they look fairly normal. I'm going to try the suggestions. Hope you get relief Tywyn.

  • Unfortunately so true ☹️

  • Hi never tried the gloves but I find warm water i.e. Washing up and exercising them helps me , but there will be times when nothing will help 🌹Dawn

  • As I mentioned to JP above my son who is recently diagnosed with the AS(RA) uses a natural product called Deep Blue rub and sometimes the oil. These products are natural and made up of pure essential oils. the main ingred is menthol and wintergreen and a couple of other oils. message me if you want more about the deep blue, info I can send it to you. message me if your like.

  • I must admit I do use the compression gloves at night if my hands are throbbing and it does help massively. Also I find putting them in a bowl of hot water is bliss! I have tried frozen peas and it was horrible! I had more pain the colder my hands got, totally different with heat, hands feel good and also eases stiffness. I also exercise, I have gone for a bike ride even with pain and find it easing off as my heart rate quickens! I know though it is not possible for everyone to do this. Hope this helps.

  • You could try Magnesium Oil. It works quite well for me.

  • I do get swelling in my hands with the pain I rub voltarol into them then put on the arthritis gloves I got from occupational thereby unit at hospital but you can buy them from shops selling disability aids or from there catalogue

  • I seem to find that it's he alternation of cold and heat that helps - goodness knows why. And keeping them moving as much as they let you, and using compression gloves when there's swelling and splints at night.

    What joy it all is!

  • Hi , I use aspercream, then apply cotton gloves, and wrap in heating pad Oh feels so good. I'll do it to my feet also. Good luck..

  • My hands were my first sign of RA. Sometimes they ache so badly that they become almost un usable. I am in the U.S. so I'm not sure if it's available in the U.K., but there is a prescription gel called Voltaren that really works for me. It comes in pill form also but that is extremely hard on the stomach. The gel comes in a tube. I spread a small amount on my hands and fingers and the throbbing goes away in 30 seconds. It's only a "bandaid" solution and is not going to fix your problem but at least you will get some relief. It doesn't work on everyone but it certainly works on me. Ask your doctor for a sample if possible to see if it helps you. It would be worth a try. The generic name is Diclofenac Sodium topical gel 1%. In some countries you can find it over the counter but the US requires a prescription. Good luck.


  • My son who has AS Ankolosing Sponditities (RA) uses a product called Deep Blue and is a cream all natural, has menthol and wintergreen along with other oils. it assists in addressing nuscle pain and inflamation. , I believe there is a warehouse in the UK. If you message me I could send you a sample as it comes in samples as well. . Or send you a email with info on it. The deep blue oil pure essential oil is more for bone. My son also gets a regular treatment using Essential oil in a reg massage treatment using the anti inflamatory oils.. He is newly diagnosed and waiting to see his rhuematoid Dr at the end of feb, With this you still need to consult your drs before you use anything, as my son at the moment is not on any meds .

  • I find heat helps me, however I have an ice therapy gel that is cold going on then heats. I agree movement eventually eases pain and stiffness

  • My mum bought me a hot paraffin wax bath which helped in the early days of lots of hand pain. I find I don't use it now but am keeping it for when/if the pain comes back!

  • My hands are "a pain" too. I have started using volterol as you would a hand cream when I go to bed! Seems to be helping.

  • Me too

  • Ask your GP for some VOLTAROL EMUGEL ! I tried this around two months ago when I couldn't tolerate some painkillers and it works wonders. You can buy the 'over the counter' version but the one your GP will give you seems to be stronger so I would definitely go down that route. I find my hands get really bad sometimes in the middle of the night so I always have a tube of the gel next to my bed so that I can have squeeze and rub it in well and the pain subsides in about fifteen minutes and I can get some sleep at last. Of course, you can use it in other places as well as it works directly on the area it s applied to so well worth keeping it in stock !

    Hope you find some relief soon,

    Take care,


  • I still wash up just because my hands work great after and it does relieve the pain , but don't put off taking pain killers till your in agony because they don't work like that , you need to keep your pain fresh hold stable that doesn't mean taking them four times a day just when you feel the pain start take them then it will help and it doesn't mean you'll get addicted to them 💕🌺

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