Over the last few years, I’ve developed arthritis in my hands. Inflammation has actually caused the ligaments to pull bones in the wrong directions, resulting in seriously deformed fingers.
Despite this, I can still type well and accomplish most of my regular tasks (if nothing else, people with chronic illness and pain invariably know how to adapt). But periodically, my hands will swell monstrously, to the point of being hot to the touch and unable to grip anything – essentially just puffy balloons, useless until the flare passes.
When this first happened, about a year and a half ago, I found myself desperate for relief. I Googled the subject and learned about compression gloves. Basically, these gloves are designed to decrease pain and swelling by squeezing slightly down on your hands, which improves circulation. Having your hands wrapped also provides a bit of heat, which can further help with your pain levels.
As with most other things in life, I discovered that compression gloves come in a wide variety of brands, styles and prices. I really had no idea what kind would be best, so I opted to buy two different sets – Futuro’s Energizing Support Glove and Dr. Kay’s 24/7 Arthritis Compression Gloves – for the sake of comparison. (No, neither I nor National Pain Report get any kind of commission for giving you product names; I just want readers to know specifically the products that I tried.)
The Futuro gloves are sold separately for about $12 each, while the Dr. Kay’s were the same price for a set. I would imagine that selling the gloves separately does make sense, as not everyone experiences pain in both hands. But at the same time, it seemed a little sneaky to me (ladies, think swimwear and how the retail trend of recent years has been to sell tops and bottoms separately…)
Right away, I found that I liked Futuro’s design much better than Dr. Kay’s. The Futuro gloves are essentially a small bag with slots for the fingers, slightly baggy until the Velcro strap is pulled around the hand to tighten the glove to the desired measurements. No matter how puffy my hands get, I can ease them gently into the gloves without additional pain.
The problem, however, occurs when I try to take my hands OUT of these gloves. The Velcro strap holds firmly, so it’s a one-handed struggle to undo them. (Yes, I admit to actually using my teeth when another person wasn’t available to help me.)
Conversely, there was no way to adjust the Dr. Kay’s, which are tight and fairly narrow. That doesn’t seem like a problem, considering the reason you’d want them in the first place. But when faced with the reality of trying to stuff your swollen and aching hands into such a confined area, you realize the design doesn’t really meet the needs as well as it might. It’s for this reason that I’ve been using the Futuro’s gloves almost exclusively.
The length of time the gloves should be worn varies, both on the person’s specific medical situation and comfort level. I have worn mine overnight numerous times and experienced no ill effects.
Overall, I found compression gloves to be a fairly inexpensive and convenient solution. I keep mine in my purse, as they take up virtually no space, and that way they are accessible should I need them at home, at work or on the go. They aren’t a cure, of course; but until the day that one is found, this is a pretty satisfactory means of combatting hand pain and inflammation.
Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a chronic pain sufferer who lives in Connecticut and is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report. You can follow her on twitter @castlesburning.