Nail Clinic: Help Clients With Arthritis

Arthritis affects more than 40 million Americans, so chances are you have a client who is affected by it to some degree. Take better care of clients you see with arthritis with some extra information on the disease and a few tips for relieving pain from it.
So what is arthritis?
Arthritis is a joint disorder characterized by inflammation – and can be found in men, women, and even some children.


The chief symptoms of arthritis are local pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling. The severity ranges from those cases that can be helped by over-the-counter analgesics to those who suffer from deformed joints and crippling pain everyday.

Types of Arthritis
There are actually over 100 different forms of arthritis, but here we’ll examine the top two.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disorder that leads to the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage, essentially breaking down the cushion between bones. The joints will become inflamed, tender, and less flexible. It can be caused by genetics, injury, overuse, or illness. One giveaway that a client has this is that her finger joints closest to the tips of her nails will look knobby and protrude.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic form of arthritis (systemic meaning that it’s a widespread problem that can’t be pinpointed to one place in the body). It affects women three time as often as men, and begins primarily when women are in their 40’s. RA is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune cells attack the joints, causing swelling, redness, and fluid build up. Pain usually begins in the feet and ankles. While the exact cause of RA is unknown, it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.


What you should do
While arthritis does not directly affect the nails, if a person’s hands or fingers are swollen or twisted from arthritis, it can cause changes in the nails, too.

But more importantly, some treatment options for arthritis can cause issues with the nails. Some medications can even cause “nail pitting or the formation of horizontal lines across the nail bed,” says Lyn Overman, Ph.D, a researcher with the Arthritis Information Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. However, in most cases, clients with arthritis are not restricted from nail services and giving a client well-manicured nails can actually make her feel better about the appearance of her hands.

A few extra tips to keep clients comfortable
Arthritic hands are sensitive. Have your client rest her hands on a comfortable surface, rather than holding them yourself. Have your client communicate to you what would make her most comfortable.

A salon owner even recommends booking clients with arthritis for later in the day, as stiffness and soreness is worst in the morning, and joints loosen up over the course of the day.

Massage can also cause temporary relief. However, be gentle, as rough movements can worsen pain.  Stay away from red or inflamed joints.

Make the entire visit comfortable. Point her towards a chair that’s easy to get in and out of. Let her take her time filling out forms. If you offer tea or beverages in your salon, provide her with a light cup that’s easy to hold.

Soothing oils can be incorporated into treatments as well. Essential oils like sweet birch, chamomile, clove bud, ginger, lemon, and rosemary can all relieve the pains of arthritis, though some should be avoided by clients on certain anticoagulant drugs.

Keep your clients comfortable and happy, and they’ll keep on coming back!


[Images: Thinkstock/iStockphoto]

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