According to the article, "Finger Joint Arthritis" by the Internet Society of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma at Orthogate.net, "In rheumatoid arthritis, the fingers often become deformed as the disease progresses. The MCP joints of the fingers may actually begin to point sideways." Typical treatment for reversing arthritis symptoms includes rest, ice, heat, medication and exercise. Reversing finger deformities may take longer and require additional medication and possibly even surgery or alternative medical treatments.
Reversing Your Finger Arthritis
Refrain for all physical activity or manual labor for a few days. During this time, wear a hand and finger splint or brace to limit movement of the fingers.
Take two ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin or naproxen (Aleve) every four to six hours. Repeat this procedure daily until your finger joint arthritis symptoms are gone. For more severe pain and deformity, contact your doctor for a cortisone shot.
Put ice in an ice pack or inside a hand towel. Strap or tie the ice pack or hand towel (use bath-size towel for tying) around your fingers so that the ice is compressed directly against the arthritic finger joint. Repeat this procedure every three to four hours until the inflammation and swelling have been substantially reduced.
When inflammation and swelling are under control, use a heating pad for 15 to 20 minutes, several times per day. Continue using the heating pad every day until your arthritis symptoms and pain are gone.
Once you get the initial inflammation reduced, perform the following exercises: Fully extend the fingers in your arthritic hand while keeping your fingers together. Slowly bend the joints in your finger so that your fingertips are touching the top part of your hand palm (where the calluses form). Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times, rest, then repeat these movements twice more for 20 total repetitions. Next, alternate touching your thumb to each of your fingers. Repeat this movement 10 times with each finger. Finally, place your hand flat on a table. Slowly lift each finger up individually, including your arthritic finger(s). Repeat this movement 10 times with each finger.
Obviously, if you have any deformity in your finger, it is going to take longer to reverse your symptoms. A cortisone shot can hasten the inflammation-reducing process in addition to ice and anti-inflammatory medications. As your inflammation is reduced, the cartilage in your joints may start minimizing your deformity a bit. If not, there are other treatments available such as prolotherapy (injection which spurs inflammation so joint increases collagen and tightens)—and even surgery. Glucosamine and chondroitin (two oral supplements) have also been clinically proven to improve arthritis symptoms.
Do not begin exercising too soon, as this can exacerbate your arthritic condition. Exercise after the initial swelling and inflammation have subsided.