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My 8 Favorite Products That Help My Hands with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Managing RA

March 15, 2024

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Design by Alexis Lira

Design by Alexis Lira

by Effie Koliopoulos


Medically Reviewed by:

Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR


by Effie Koliopoulos


Medically Reviewed by:

Nancy Carteron, M.D., FACR


Wrist wraps, thumb and finger splints, therapy putty, and gloves are just some of the products I use to help my hand symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that occurs when your immune system attacks cells. It often affects your joints, leading to painful inflammation and tissue damage. In some cases, bone erosion and permanent joint changes can occur.

Although not as common, RA can affect other body systems, such as your eyes, heart, lungs, skin, and blood vessels.

The body part that’s commonly affected is your hands, with stiffness, swelling, and pain often appearing as the first symptoms. I’ve experienced all of the above symptoms in my hands over the last 20 years of living with RA.

But the disease has taught me ways to care for my hands that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

An occupational therapist was one of the first professionals to join my medical care team after my diagnosis. During my appointments, I learned about various products that could help my hands. Through trial and error, I found products that work well for me and might work for you, too.

These are eight products that have helped my hands the most with RA and related joint damage.

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1. My favorite ulnar deviation splint

Ulnar deviation, commonly referred to as ulnar drift, is a hand condition that can often occur in those living with RA.

The main cause is inflammation that affects the knuckle joints and weakens the surrounding tendon structures.

When I received my RA diagnosis, the same two knuckle joints in both of my hands showed signs of swelling and eventually mild joint damage. Over time, X-rays began to show moderate to severe joint damage, which eventually led to a severe ulnar drift on my right hand.

Many RA medications can stop this from occurring, but not always. In my case, the real problem was receiving a diagnosis a few years too late and being undertreated by a rheumatologist at one point.

There are many ulnar deviation splints on the market, but the DeRoyal LMB Soft-Core Ulnar Deviation Splint is by far my favorite. It’s lightweight, easy to use and adjust, and allows for custom fit around the palmar arch, which is where the most support is needed.

One drawback is that it doesn’t last forever, and it’s a bit pricey. Though, for me, it’s worth it.

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2. My favorite finger splint

I wear this 3-Point Products Oval-8 Finger Splint all the time. It can be used to help stabilize the small joints of your fingers. I use it primarily for my boutonniere deformities and to support the tendons in my fingers.

The splint comes in different sizes and can be worn on all fingers, including your thumb. It’s great to wear when you’re typing, driving, and even writing.

It’s made of durable plastic, and I think it’s more comfortable than a ring splint made of sterling silver. You might prefer sterling silver due to the resemblance of ring jewelry. But for me, I find the Oval-8 more practical and less rigid on my fingers, especially on days when I’m flaring and feel my fingers are more tender.

3. My favorite wrist support

My knuckle joints were the first to be affected by RA. Next came my wrists.

I found this Fabrifoam CarpalGuard Wrist Support extremely helpful during my college years when writing wasn’t something I could escape. It’s also helpful during daily tasks such as driving and opening and closing things because it provides snug support.

You can also wrap it loosely or tightly, depending on your preferences, which I found particularly useful to adapt to changing swelling or inflammation during flares.

Tailored to provide support for your wrist, I use it when I need more support while driving, writing, and even working out.

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4. My favorite thumb splint

One thing I learned quickly after my RA diagnosis is how important our thumbs are. We may often think other parts of our hands do all the work for us, but our thumbs take most of the brunt.

When I started experiencing pain, swelling, and joint damage in my thumbs, it became extremely difficult to do the simplest of tasks, such as combing my hair, holding a pen, getting dressed, and even driving.

This Comfort Cool Thumb CMC Restriction Splint was a lifesaver and is still my go-to. It’s comfortable and can be easy to put on by yourself. It’s very similar to the Fabrifoam CarpalGuard Wrist Support, but, of course, it’s more tailored to the thumb than the wrist.

The velcro can be a bit strong at first but loosens up over time.

5. My favorite therapy putty

Putty may seem childlike, but your inner child may thank you. The benefits may include increased muscle strength, range of motion, dexterity, grip strength, and flexibility. It can also reduce RA symptoms.

Exercise with RA is often very body-focused, but exercising the hands and forearms can be of equal importance.

Usually, therapy putty comes with exercises, or you can ask your occupational therapist for suggestions based on your specific needs.

It comes in different levels of firmness, and you may not need to squeeze hard to gain results. A little can go a long way with this.

I love that you can use putty at home while sitting or lying down, doing various hand exercises while watching a show, watching a movie, or reading a book. I often buy Special Supplies Therapy Putty.

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6. My favorite therapy gloves

These Voligo Hot and Cold Hand Therapy Gloves offer hot and cold therapy, both of which can help RA symptoms.

They fit many hand sizes. I often prefer for my therapy gloves to be bigger for the days when I feel more inflamed and need more wiggle room. This can also be very helpful for those with ulnar deviation who may need more space due to their fingers not being straight and drifting toward their pinky finger.

For me, these gloves have replaced my use of paraffin wax. I found paraffin wax to be messy and a bit dangerous. Something about heated wax on my hands didn’t quite sit well with me, and I’d much rather the salon professionals do that. These gloves help me feel safe and relieve my symptoms without any mess or effort.

7. My favorite CBD product for pain relief

I was a bit skeptical of CBD products that weren’t from a dispensary. However, the Green Roads Advanced Pain Relief Roll-On has worked even better than my tried-and-true Biofreeze.

I find it particularly effective on days when my hands may be flaring or just feeling a bit strained and tired. If you’re a fan of CBD and roll-ons, consider trying this.

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8. My favorite pain relief gel

My rheumatologist recommended using Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel on my joints. I’ve often used it on my hands.

It’s a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, so only a small amount is needed. I’ve found that applying the gel before wearing one of my hand supports can provide great relief and compression.

The takeaway

Whether I choose to use a wrist wrap, a finger splint, or any of the products mentioned here depends on each day, including my current symptoms and my plans. I don’t only use them on bad days, but I use them on good days, too, because they can provide support and help with many symptoms.

What works for one person may not work for you. If you’ve just received a diagnosis of RA, researching your options and asking your medical professionals for suggestions are good first steps.

Many who have been on this journey may know that trial and error can be part of the RA experience. But once you’re able to find what helps, you can have your own medical care tool kit ready for the good and bad days and everything in between.

Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Medically reviewed on March 15, 2024

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About the author

Effie Koliopoulos

Effie Koliopoulos launched a blog, Rising Above rheumatoid arthritis, in 2017 after recovering from a total knee replacement. This also started her advocacy work to shine a light on life with arthritis. She was awarded the WEGO Health Rookie of the Year Award and is a recipient of the HealtheVoices Impact Fund, which helped fund her recent book project, Keeping It Real with Arthritis: Stories from Around the World. Her advocacy efforts can be found on AiArthritis, Creaky Joints,, NewLifeOutlook, Everyday Health, Healthline, and Good Housekeeping. Effie is currently working on other writing projects, and she’s a passionate storyteller at heart. She graduated from DePaul University and lives in Chicago.

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