How Is Arthritis In The Hand Treated
Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, stage of arthritis, how many joints are affected, your age, activity level, the hand affected and other existing medical conditions.
Goals of treatment are to:
- Improve mobility and function.
- Increase your quality of life.
- In the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment options include splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.
Splits or braces support and protect the affected joint, reduce deformity, provide joint stability, lessen strain, and promote proper joint alignment. Your healthcare provider, occupational therapist or hand therapist will discuss splinting/bracing options, how and when to wear them and how long to wear them .
Steroids reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Steroids are usually used if medications dont control inflammation or if the inflammation is limited to a few joints. Injections are administered directly into the affected joint. Because steroids can weaken tendons and ligaments, injections are repeated only a few times.
Other management strategies
A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
If nonsurgical treatments no longer provide relief and the cartilage at the ends of your bones has worn away, surgery may be an option. There are several approaches:
How Arthritis In The Hands Is Treated
If youre diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis, you have more treatment options than someone with OA. While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain of both types of arthritis, the development of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics has vastly improved the prognosis of those with inflammatory forms of arthritis by reducing inflammation and preventing further joint damage.
Cortisone injections can be useful for those with OA and conditions such as RA, though theyre usually used in patients whose inflammatory arthritis is limited to just one or two joints, Dr. Byram says. Injections of hyaluronic acid can be helpful for those with OA , but these are better for managing pain in larger joints like the knees rather than the hands.
What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
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Should I Exercise My Hands
Dont be afraid to use your hands. Regular exercise is important in reducing stiffness and keeping your joints and muscles working. Try to make sure you move any affected joints in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists as far as is comfortable several times a day. You could also see an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for specific hand exercises.
Trigger Finger: Symptoms Signs And Treatments
Also called “stenosing tenosynovitis,” makes it difficult to fully straighten or bend your fingers. You may be unable to make a fist. People with trigger finger often feel their symptoms are worse when they wake up in the morning. While trigger finger can affect any finger, it most commonly arises in the ring finger, middle finger, and thumb.
Flexor tendons attach the muscles of your forearm to the bones of your fingers, passing through tunnels in the palm. When you contract a muscle in your arm, the flexor tendons enable your fingers to bend. With trigger finger, bands of tissue called “pulleys” that hold the flexor tendons close to the finger bones become inflamed or thickened, making it harder for the tendon to slide through the pulley as you bend your finger.
You may feel a small nodule in your palm that develops from enlargement of the tendon and/or thickening of the pulley. This may cause the tendon to catch as it passes through the pulley. You may also feel a clicking of the finger or experience locking of the joints. This is often quite painful and if left untreated, may lead to permanent stiffness of the finger.
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Pain In Finger Joints A Common First Symptom Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dear Mayo Clinic:
How do I know if joint pain in my fingers is arthritis or if it’s something else? Will cortisone injections help joint pain and swelling in my fingers? If not, what are my options?
It sounds like you may be dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. Pain in the finger joints is a classic initial symptom of this disease. If it is, indeed, rheumatoid arthritis, you have many effective treatment choices, including cortisone injections.
There is no single test or symptom that confirms rheumatoid arthritis. Your doctor diagnoses this disease based largely on your medical history and a clinical exam. Joint pain and stiffness often start in the hands and toes, affecting both sides of the body. The pain and stiffness may slowly increase over a few weeks. Or, in some cases, symptoms can come on quickly, seemingly overnight. As the disease progresses, it can affect the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, jaw and neck. Other symptoms can include:
- Pain relief with heat. A hot shower or bath often helps.
- Red, puffy hands
- Weight loss
To help confirm the diagnosis, your doctor might order blood tests that measure the body’s inflammatory process. These results provide important clues because rheumatoid arthritis is the result of an immune system gone awry. It’s not caused by aging or wear-and-tear on the joints.
â Nisha Manek, M.D., Rhematology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Peripheral Neuropathy
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis known for causing joint symptoms, including pain, swelling, and stiffness. However, studies have shown that 10 percent to 20 percent of people with RA experience extra-articular manifestations . As many as 85 percent of people with RA experience peripheral neuropathy a group of disorders caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy can cause a variety of symptoms, including increased sensitivity, muscle weakness or twitching, and painful sensations. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They will be able to determine the cause of any new or worsened symptoms and work with you to find the right treatment.
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If Theres Pain See Your Doctor
Although neck, back or knuckle cracking is probably harmless, the exception is if it causes pain. In that case, it could be a problem with the structure of the joint or surrounding areas, such as torn cartilage or damaged ligaments. If you already have arthritis or another issue, such as tendonitis, that could also be the cause of pain with cracking. Talk to your doctor to address the underlying problem, if you experience an uncomfortable feeling with joint cracking.
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Changes In Surrounding Joints
In patients with advanced thumb base arthritis, the neighboring joints may become more mobile than normal.
Thumb extension deformity. This patient has lost mobility at the base of the thumb due to arthritis. The next joint closer to the tip of the thumb has become more mobile than normal to make up for the arthritic joint. Normally, the thumb does not come to a right angle with the rest of the hand.
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What You Can Do
Arthritis is a common condition with many treatment options. Because it worsens over time, it’s best to seek medical care early. Even if you think your hand pain is mild, make an appointment with your doctor. You can perform exercises, wear arthritis gloves, and take medications to manage the symptoms.
The Diagnosis Of Osteoarthritis
When diagnosing osteoarthritis, your doctor will ask you about your hands and other joints. Explain how your symptoms affect what you do. Your doctor will check how your hands look and function. X-rays of joints with osteoarthritis can show loss of normal joint space, bone spurs, or other changes.
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What Does Peripheral Neuropathy In Ra Feel Like
Peripheral neuropathy can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including pain, abnormal sensations , and muscle weakness. These symptoms often mimic or overlap with symptoms of RA, making it difficult to determine which condition is causing a persons symptoms.
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy typically begin with numbness and pins-and-needles sensations in the fingers or toes. These sensations may spread into the hands and feet, causing sharp, throbbing, burning, freezing, or shooting pain. This pain can be chronic or episodic and usually worsens at night.
Some people with peripheral neuropathy find that their symptoms develop quickly and suddenly, while others develop symptoms slowly for several years. The particular symptoms you experience may depend on which peripheral nerves have been damaged.
Other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Muscle weakness, cramping, or twitching
- The feeling of wearing an invisible sock or glove
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Abnormalities in pulse or blood pressure
For Hands And Fingers
There are a number of things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms. Once you meet with your doctor, they can make a diagnosis and help you develop a treatment plan suited to your needs.
You may also find relief by:
- massaging the affected areas
- applying a hot or cold compress to reduce swelling
- wearing hand splints to help stabilize and protect your wrist and fingers
- taking regular breaks when typing or writing
- performing hand and wrist exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles
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What Is A Swan
This happens when the base of the finger and the outermost joint bend, while the middle joint straightens. Over time, this imbalance of the finger joints can result in the crooked âswan-neckâ position. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause it.
A swan-neck deformity can make it almost impossible to bend the affected finger normally. It can make it hard to button shirts, grip a glass, or pinch with the fingers.
Treatment may include:
- Finger splints or ring splints
- Surgery to realign the joints or fuse the joints so they work better
But Wait Theres More Heres What You Shouldnt Crack
Dr. Fackler advises avoiding popping the neck, as it can cause inflammation around the nerves and lead to more serious injuries long-term. I encourage people not to habitually pop their necks, especially kids.
So, as it turns out, you can crack your knuckles, limitlessly, without the consequences of arthritis. Just dont be too caught off guard if your rings fit a little tighter after a knuckle-cracking session. Cracking knuckles can cause temporary swelling or a subtle increase in the size of your hands, but is ultimately harmless. There are no long-term studies that show knuckle-cracking causes any damage, Dr. Fackler says. Until then, When it comes to your fingers, dont even worry about it.
Snap, crackle and pop away.
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Question: Are There Any Side Effects To Cracking Knuckles
There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage such as arthritis in the joints. However, a couple of reports in the medical literature are available associating knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons which improved with conservative treatment. A study found that after many years of cracking habitual knuckle crackers may have reduced grip strength compared with people not cracking their knuckles.
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Stick To Your Prescribed Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Plan
Medication that helps reduce out-of-control inflammation in the body is a cornerstone of rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and how long youve had rheumatoid arthritis, your rheumatologist may prescribe a combination of medications. One of the major goals of treatment of RA is to prevent this structural damage that can result in loss of dexterity and strength in the hands, says Dr. Lally.
Commonly prescribed medications include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
These medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen or prescription versions, are used for mild joint pain and reduce inflammation but dont prevent disease progression.
These medications, such as prednisone, help reduce inflammation quickly and tend to be prescribed during flares. They used sparingly and carefully in people with RA because they can have a wide range of side effects.
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs
These medications address the underlying systemic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. They are critical for slowing and stopping the course of inflammatory disease. They fall into three general categories.
The treatments that we have for RA both the conventional DMARDs such as methotrexate and the biologics and JAK inhibitors can help improve joint pain, swelling, and stiffness while preventing the development of long-term damage, adds Dr. Lally.
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What Type Of Hand Surgery Is Most Commonly Performed On The Specific Joints Affected By Arthritis
- Base of the thumb: Where your thumb and wrist join. Common surgical options include removing part or all of one of the trapezium bone , tendon transfer or joint fusion.
- Knuckles : Joint replacement is almost always considered for this repair. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause serious damage and disability to your knuckles.
- Second joint of your finger : Osteoarthritis commonly causes stiffness and loss of motion. Joint replacement or fusion are considered for these joints. Because you use these joints frequently, there is a chance your implant could wear out. In this case, your provider may recommend further surgery.
- Top of finger joint : Joint fusion is commonly used to treat arthritis in this joint.
Other Causes Of Joint Pain
Joint pain can also result from abnormal pain processing, which occurs in conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Because joint pain and swelling can have many different causes, she stresses that obtaining the correct diagnosis is the most important part. You have to learn the cause of the joint pain and swelling in order to treat it correctly. Treatment options can vary widely, so it’s important that you don’t try to fix your joint pain or swelling on your own.
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Is It Arthritis In My Hand Or Tendonitis
Arthritis and tendonitis can mimic each other, so its important to understand the difference between the two. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons in your hand due to an injury or repetitive motion, and the pain can come and go suddenly or last for a few days.
Arthritis, however, is inflammation of the joint due to degenerative joint disease. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis , when the protective cartilage in the joint breaks down, and rheumatoid arthritis , when immune system attacks the joints. Early symptoms of arthritis include painful hand joints, burning sensation and decreased functionality of the hand and/or wrist.
Can Psa Affect Just One Finger
Yes, people can have PsA symptoms in just one finger, or just in one hand, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
PsA affects everyone differently. Doctors are not sure what causes it or why some people with psoriasis develop joint problems where others do not.
However, it is likely that a combination of genetic and environmental factors plays a role.
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What Is A Boutonniere Deformity
Boutonniere deformity, also called buttonhole deformity, can happen due to rheumatoid arthritis.
The middle finger joint will bend toward the palm while the outer finger joint may bend opposite the palm. It may be the result of chronic inflammation of the finger’s middle joint.
Treatment may include splinting to keep the middle joint extended. Some cases need surgery.
Get more information on other RA joint deformities.
How To Handle Possible Surgery
If mobility problems or pain from osteoarthritis becomes so severe it affects your quality of life, then surgery may be necessary. Here, the damaged cartilage in the joint is removed and the bones then fused together. Another option is joint replacement, which involves removing the damaged joint and replacing it with an implant. But keep in mind that surgery is not a miracle cure. “It doesn’t reverse the damage caused by osteoarthritis, and you don’t regain normal function. And with fusion, you lose all motion at that joint,” says rheumatologist Dr. Robert Shmerling, at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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Trigger Finger Risk Factors
Things that make you more likely to have trigger finger include:
- Age. It usually shows up between ages 40 and 60.
- Sex. Itâs more common in women than men.
- Health conditions.Diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to trigger finger.
- Job. Itâs common among farmers, industrial workers, musicians, and anyone else who repeats finger and thumb movements.
- Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. Itâs most common in the first 6 months after your operation.
Tips For Preventing Arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis. In fact, most treatments for arthritis are aimed at early recognition and prevention. Genetics can increase your likelihood for developing arthritis, as can a strong family history of the disease. Women are also more prone to arthritis than men.
You may try to prevent arthritis and still develop the disease. However, you can take actions to reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This can help to fight off OA.
- Dont smoke, or quit smoking. This may reduce your chance of developing RA.
- Try to avoid injury when playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- If your job requires a lot of pushing, pulling, or lifting of heavy objects, take precautions to avoid injury to your joints.
- If your job calls for a lot of typing, practice good posture. If necessary, get a special keyboard, wrist cushion, or pad.
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