What vitamins can I take for osteoarthritis?
Q) I’m 26 years old and have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my thumb in my left hand. What vitamins can I take to help prevent getting this problem in the future? I feel very young to have this. Also, should I wear a thumb splint/compression support all the time?
Any advice would be great. I'm very new to this and have no one to ask.
Kym (Spring 2018)
A) It’s unlikely that you’ll be deficient in any vitamins if you eat a normal balanced diet, so supplements probably won’t make a difference to your symptoms or to the longer-term outlook for your thumb.
With thumb osteoarthritis it's important to work on joint stability and the range of movement. When a joint is affected by osteoarthritis the muscles that surround the joint can become weaker and lose their bulk very quickly. This can make the joint less stable, which is a problem when it comes to the function of the thumb, and it also causes pain.
Using exercises that work on increasing the strength of overall grip, pinch grip and other thumb movements will be beneficial. Changing your approach to lifting and carrying things to spread the load across your hands and arms can also make a big difference, reducing strain through the thumb.
Splints can be useful to protect the joint, particularly if you're experiencing a flare-up of pain or are doing a lot of activities that use the thumb, but I wouldn’t recommend using them all the time.
If you need specific advice on managing your thumb osteoarthritis, it’s worth asking your GP for a referral to a hand therapist.
This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham for the Spring 2018 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.
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