In addition to medication and surgery there are many things you can do on your own or with your doctor or hand therapist to relieve hand pain and perform daily activities. Here are some techniques and devices worth trying.

Hot and cold. When hands are swollen and painful from arthritis, cold packs can numb the painful joints and reduce swelling. Cold is also helpful for reducing swelling and inflammation from a new joint injury. For aching hands without acute inflammation, heat may provide relief. For Raynaud's phenomenon, keeping the hands warm is helpful.

Learn more about using hot and cold for pain relief.

Splints and braces. Splints and braces made of neoprene, metal and other materials are used in the treatment of arthritis, injuries or other conditions of the wrist and fingers. For example, a splint that immobilizes the wrist may be prescribed for nighttime use to relieve the tingling and numbness of carpal tunnel syndrome or to provide rest and support for arthritis in the wrist. Finger splints may be used to help fractured or dislocated fingers heal or to prevent deformities in fingers affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Splints and braces may be prefabricated or custom made by a hand therapist.

Assistive devices. If your hands are stiff or painful, or if you have trouble holding, gripping and turning, assistive devices can make tasks easier on joints and more efficient for you. These products, which range from simple to elaborate, help keep joints in the best position for functioning, provide leverage when needed and extend your range of motion. Simple arthritis self-help devices, such as jar openers, reachers and easy-grip utensils, can be purchased at many hardware or medical supply stores.

Learn more about assistive devices.

There are also many things you can do to protect your hands and make daily tasks easier. Read these articles from Arthritis Today to learn more about

• Easy to Use Tools for the Kitchen

• Handy Garden Tools

• Ways to Make Needlework Finger-Friendly

• Safe Cleaning Tips