Arthritis gloves: do they help relieve symptoms?

At the moment there are not enough studies to support the effectiveness of gloves for arthritis. However, there is research that reports improvement in patients thanks to the use of these accessories.

Last update: February 10, 2022

Arthritis gloves are often promoted as an alternative to reduce the symptoms caused by this disease. Likewise, there are not a few therapists who recommend them for the same purposes.

It is very common for arthritis to manifest first in the small joints of the hands. This causes pain that becomes difficult to bear. There is also swelling and stiffness.

Arthritis gloves are known as compression gloves or thermal. The patient just needs to put them on and hold them in their hands for a while. This would relieve symptoms and make it easier to carry out daily tasks. But are they really effective?

What are arthritis gloves like?

Arthritis gloves are designed to help control some of the symptoms of the disease, but not to treat or cure. Its purpose is to give compression, warmth and light support to the hands.

These types of gloves work on the principle that compression and heat increase the supply of oxygen to moving muscles. Consequently, circulation around the affected area is increased. This leads to a more rapid elimination of lactic acid.

The end effect is a reduction in pain and inflammation. At the same time, allows for a wider range of motionas well as contributing less stiffness and more gripping strength.

Typically, arthritis gloves are recommended for eight hours at a time.

Types

Arthritis gloves can come with or without fingers. The latter facilitate some activities, in particular the manipulation of touch screens.

The joints of the hands are usually among the first to be affected when a person suffers from arthritis.

compression gloves

These arthritis gloves apply constant pressure to the hands and wrists. Recent research found that several patients experienced relief after 4 weeks of use. They felt less pain, less stiffness, and improved hand function.

Within this group are the so-called IMAK gloveswhich are made with a mixture of spandex and cotton. They are among the most recommended by prestigious institutions in the United States, such as the Arthritis Foundation and the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Thermal gloves

Thermal or heating gloves provide extra heat to hands and wrists. Some are made of materials that trap heat on the skin. Others have batteries.

As in the previous case, it is estimated that heat can help reduce pain, thus increasing range of motion and improving hand function. Some of them contain copper fibers. However, the Arthritis Foundation reported in an article that there is no evidence that copper offers benefits in these cases.

wristbands

Although wrist wraps are not arthritis gloves as such, they do usually complement the action of these. These are splints that are placed on the wrists to provide stability and improve range of motion in patients with arthritis of the hands. A study confirms this.

Possible Benefits of Gloves for Arthritis

Although there is still not enough evidence in this regard, everything indicates that the arthritis gloves would relieve several of the symptoms of the illness. Specifically, there is a reduction in pain, stiffness and swelling in the hands.

The compression and heat stimulate the movement of body fluids and this helps to reduce the inflammatory process. The result is better mobility and functionality. It would also help repair small soft tissue injuries.

In general, those who can benefit most from these gloves are patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. However, they may also be helpful for those with tenosynovitis, wrist gout, Raynaud’s syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

It must be said that this does not always happen. Some people have reported no improvement after using the arthritis gloves for a while. Likewise, in some patients they help with some symptoms of the disease, but not with others.



Safety and tips for using them

It is important to emphasize that arthritis gloves are not suitable for all patients. However, it is difficult to predict what the reaction will be in each case.

Having said that, the following aspects must be taken into account:

  • Adjustment: Arthritis gloves should fit very well. They should not be loose or too tight.
  • Material: the fabric must be breathable, since these gloves must be used for several hours. For the night, what is indicated is a rigid fabric.
  • With fingers or without fingers: Fingerless arthritis gloves are more functional as they make everyday tasks easier. If they are to be used overnight, this feature may not be as important.
  • Thermal: if there is a lot of pain or swelling, you may want to use heated gloves.

The golden rule is to wear them long enough. They must be worn for at least 8 hours to provide relief.

Wrist pain is complementary to finger pain in arthritis. A wristband can add to the glove effect.


Alternatives to gloves for arthritis

Arthritis gloves aren’t the only way to relieve arthritis symptoms. In fact, they do not replace the usual treatment with drugs and physiotherapy.

It is also convenient to maintain some home care techniques, such as the following:

  • Application of hot or cold compresses.
  • Stress reduction techniques.
  • regular physical activity

If there are questions or doubts, it is best to consult with the doctor. He could give precise indications on the convenience of using the gloves for arthritis or not.

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