Arthritis In Wrist Treatment
Usually, we try simple treatments for an arthritic wrist first. Examples of simple measures include:
- Activity modification: Most people with wrist arthritis find that simply changing the way they lift helps their symptoms.
- Medications: Applying a topical cream as such ibuprofen can be helpful
- Wrist splints: Wearing a splint on your wrist can help you perform activities with less pain.
- Exercise therapy: Performing simple daily activities reduces pain and improves function. We suggest seeing an experienced hand therapist.
In complex cases, injections can help reduce pain and improve function.
Finally, surgery should only be considered as a last resort. Surgical procedures include wrist fusion, proximal row carpectomy, and wrist replacement. They all have their positives and negatives, so you should speak to a good hand surgeon if youre considering surgery.
Wrist Osteoarthritis Causes And Symptoms
Is your wrist painful and stiff? Is it swollen? These are signs that you may have osteoarthritis of the wrist. Osteoarthritis can affect joints in any part of the body, including the wrist. Early diagnosis and treatment can help people with wrist osteoarthritis manage their symptoms.
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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How Are Lumps On The Hand Or Wrist Diagnosed
In order to diagnose the cause of your lump, your doctor will first take your medical history. Theyll ask you things like when you first noticed the lump, whether it has changed in size, and if youre experiencing any symptoms.
- Physical examination. Your doctor will examine your lump. They may press on the lump to check for pain or tenderness. They may also shine a light on the lump to help them see if its solid or filled with fluid.
- Imaging. Your doctor may also want to use imaging technology to get a better view of the lump and the surrounding tissue. This can include things like an ultrasound, MRI, or X-ray.
- Biopsy. In the case of a cyst or tumor, your doctor may want to take a tissue sample to examine the cells.
- Laboratory tests. Blood tests can help diagnose some conditions like RA and gout.
Can All Types Of Arthritis Benefit From A Brace
The two most common forms of arthritis that affect the wrist rheumatoid and osteoarthritis both benefit from bracing as a form of treatment.
Osteoarthritis usually develops with age and is due to normal wear-and-tear of the joint. Wrist injuries, infections, or repetitive movements can accelerate the development of osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your joints, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis can show up in people as young as 20 with no known cause.
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Ra In The Wrist: How Do I Know If I Have Arthritis In My Wrist
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and progressive autoimmune disease that occurs when the bodys natural immune system malfunctions and begins to attack the healthy tissue lining the joints. While any joint in the body can be affected, RA often starts in the joints of the wrists and hands, progressing to other joints over time. In fact, the wrist is the most common site for RA in the upper body, and usually, both wrists are involved. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 1.5 million people in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis, and the disease is about three times as common among women as among men.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that develops when the small space in the carpal tunnel is reduced even more by swelling or inflammation. Overuse or misuse of the wrist can cause inflammation in the tendons that pass through the carpal tunnel . This inflammation can lead to compression of the median nerve and result in repetitive strain injury.
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When To See A Doctor
Hand and wrist pain often gets better with things you can do at home.
However, youll need to visit your GP surgery if:
- your pain isnt getting better after treatment at home for two weeks
- the pain is getting worse
- the pain keeps returning
- the pain is stopping you from doing your everyday activities
- your hands are stiff and swollen, particularly in the mornings and these feelings dont get better after half an hour
- as well as being swollen and stiff, your hands are warm and red
- you also feel generally unwell, especially if you have a high temperature
- you have ongoing tingling, numbness or weakness in the hands or fingers.
Its important to get urgent medical attention, if:
- you think youve broken a bone
- you have extreme pain
- any part of your hand, wrist or fingers is a funny shape or colour
- you have lost the feeling of part or all of your hand
- there was a snap, grinding or popping noise when you injured your hand or wrist
- you cant move your hand, wrist or fingers properly.
If you have ongoing hand and wrist pain or a specific condition affecting the hand and wrist it could be helpful to see a hand therapist. These are healthcare professionals with expertise in treating conditions affecting the hand and wrist. Your GP, rheumatology department or orthopaedic department could refer you to one.
Hand And Wrist Arthritis Diagnosis
Our orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing the full range of hand and wrist arthritis problems. Our initial exam generally includes:
- Taking your medical history: This includes asking questions about when your pain began, whether it affects one or both sides of your body, and when the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications.
- Physical exam: The orthopedist will examine your affected hand, wrist, or elbow.
- Imaging tests: Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
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When Hand Or Wrist Pain May Mean Arthritis
Learn about the various causes of hand or wrist pain, including different kinds of arthritis.
Many forms of arthritis and related conditions that affect different parts of the hands. Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling or numbness in the wrist and fingers. Pitted nails, painful ulcers or thickened skin that makes bending the fingers difficult may also occur. Here are some diseases that affect the hands.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, OA is a chronic condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement.
In hand OA, the joints most commonly affected by OA are the wrists, the joints at the base of the thumb, the middle finger joints and the joints closest to fingernails. In the finger joints, OA can lead to the formation of nodes .
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by a faulty immune system that primarily attacks joints . The result can be joint pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. RA commonly affects the wrist and finger joints. RA usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body . If untreated, the disease can cause joint deformities that make it difficult to use the hands.
Joint Pain And Stiffness
The most common symptom of wrist arthritis is pain in the wrist joint. If pain worsens when you are using your hands and is alleviated by rest, you probably have osteoarthritis . Morning pain associated with inflammation and stiffness is often due to rheumatoid arthritis . You may feel pain in one wrist or both as a result of these conditions.
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What Does Psa In The Wrists Feel Like
MyPsoriasisTeam members often talk about their psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Some share what its like to have PsA affect their wrists.
As one member wrote, they experience aching pain in their wrists due to their PsA. Another member similarly shared that they sometimes cant stand the pain in their wrists and finger joints.
Some MyPsoriasisTeam members find that their PsA-related wrist pain worsens in different situations. One described experiencing a flare as the result of physical exertion: I had a flare-up of my arthritis on my wrists today Ive been working too hard, I think.
Other MyPsoriasisTeam members experience worsened PsA symptoms depending on the weather. As one member said, I dislike cold weather. My knees and arms, as well as my wrists and hands, hurt bad. Flare-ups also occur more when its cold, but Im seeing more of a flare-up on my wrists and arms.
However, as another member shared, heat and humidity can also affect the symptoms of PsA: Its blistering hot today, and the humidity triggered a flare-up in my wrists. When I woke up, my wrists and other joints were so painful.
Symptoms Of Wrist Arthritis
Overuse and accident injuries in your hand and wrist can cause a lot of pain. Sometimes, however, pain can develop even when you havent suffered an injury. This may be a sign of wrist arthritis, typically either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Ignoring this condition can significantly impact your everyday life. You may find it difficult to do many of the things you previously did without issues, such as typing, knitting, washing dishes, folding clothes, and more. Lets take a look at the symptoms of wrist arthritis. If you notice any of them, talk to a doctor to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan in place.
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Differences Between Carpal Tunnel And Arthritis
While several forms of arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome can all cause hand and wrist pain, there are certain features of each disease that distinguish the two. Carpal tunnel syndrome pain is primarily the result of nerve compression, while arthritis is swelling and inflammation of the joint itself.
Reducing The Strain On Your Hands And Wrists
We use our hands a lot in daily life. If you have osteoarthritis in your hands or wrists, taking some time to think about how you use them, and how you could reduce the strain on them, can bring great benefits. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your hands, just that you should think about ways of using them differently.
It may be helpful to see an occupational therapist or hand therapist, who will be able to offer a lot of useful advice on this. But many people discover for themselves different ways of doing things that help to ease the strain on their joints. Examples include:
- using gadgets such as electric tin openers or tools with softer, chunkier handles that don’t need such a tight grip
- using a backpack or shopping trolley to avoid carrying heavy bags in your hands
- taking more frequent breaks from tasks that put more strain on your joints or switching between harder and easier jobs
- using both hands for some of the tasks that you normally do one-handed
- having taps or door handles changed for those that are easier to use
- looking out for easy-to-handle fastenings when choosing clothing or shoes.
Find out more about looking after your joints.
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Impact On Daily Tasks
Having painful, swollen, or stiff wrist joints can affect your ability to use the joints in daily tasks.
As one MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, I cannot pick up anything. My wrists cannot take any weight. Another wrote that, although they experienced hip and leg pain the previous day, their PsA symptoms now affected their wrists, making it hard to type this morning.
As another member described, arthritis can have long-term impacts on your joints mobility: I also have arthritis in my wrists, they wrote, and I cant turn the right wrist anymore.
Which Joints In The Hand Are Affected
The index and middle fingers and the thumb are the parts of the hand most commonly affected. Many people find that the hand they use most is affected more than the other.
When the fingers are affected, it may be in the joints closest to the fingernails or the ones in the middle of the fingers. It’s less common to have osteoarthritis in the large knuckle joints, where the fingers meet the hand.
The joint at the base of the thumb can also be affected by osteoarthritis. And occasionally the wrist joint may be affected.
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More On Injections For Arthritis In Wrist
Generally, injections are a good option if simple treatments fail, but you dont want to consider surgery. Injection options include cortisone, hyaluronic acid, and platelet-rich plasma.
Firstly, cortisone is a potent anti-inflammatory and reduces swelling and pain in an arthritic wrist. Current evidence suggests that pain relief averages 2-3 months, although it can be longer in some people.
Secondly, hyaluronic acid is a natural substance in joints, tendons, and bones. Injecting hyaluronic acid into joints changes the joint fluid and reduces inflammation and pain.
Finally, platelet-rich plasma, also known as PRP, uses the persons blood. We spin the blood in a centrifuge, separating the plasma from the cells. Then, the plasma is injected into the joint, leading to reduced inflammation. Although there is good evidence for PRP in knee arthritis, we need more studies in wrist arthritis before we can recommend it.
In general, you should speak to your doctor about which injection is suitable for you. Importantly, you should have an injection with ultrasound to help guide the injection into the right spot. You should always do your homework before having an injection. For example, some practitioners who perform injections are not doctors experienced in ultrasound-guided injections.
Keeping Your Hands And Wrists Moving
Moving your hands, wrists and fingers as much as possible can help ease pain and stiffness. This will also maintain range of movement, function and strength.
We have some exercises you can do at home. Try to do them as regularly as you can, especially if your hands and wrists are feeling stiff.
If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, talk to a physiotherapist, GP or hand therapist for specific advice on exercise.
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What Is Wrist Arthritis
Wrist arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints of the wrist. Wrist arthritis is long-lasting or permanent and eventually causes severe joint damage. The wrist is a complex joint that is made up of multiple small joints. The bones glide over each other during movement. The ends of the bones are covered by smooth cartilage that coats the joint surfaces. Arthritis affects the cartilage, wearing it out gradually. The loss of cartilage can result in the bones rubbing against each other further, leading to irreparable joint damage.
Treatment can delay the progression of joint damage, but cannot reverse it completely. With proper treatment, many people successfully manage their symptoms and stay active.
Can Arthritis In The Hand Be Prevented
Arthritis cant be prevented. However, you can watch for symptoms of arthritis as you age and see your healthcare provider if you notice changes in your joints. You can also take steps to control factors that you can control. Eat healthy to nourish your body and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts more stress on your joints. Dont smoke. Smoking increases your risk of arthritis.
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Hand And Wrist Arthritis Treatment
Treatment for hand, wrist, and elbow arthritis usually depends on whether you suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, and how severe your disease is. The experienced team of orthopedists at MedStar Health will examine you carefully and work to develop the most effective treatment plan for you, to ease your pain and improve your ability to use your hands and wrists.
Treatment options aside from surgery may include:
- Prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
- Injections of steroids or anti-inflammatory medications
- Temporarily restricting hand or wrist movement with a splint to ease pain
- Physical therapy
If non-surgical treatment does not relieve your pain, you may need surgery. The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Georgetown are experienced in the most advanced and innovative surgical procedures for arthritis treatment.
Surgical procedures we use to treat arthritis include:
Hand Osteoarthritis Home Remedies
These home treatments can help:
- Exercises. Your doctor or physical therapist can show you what to do to improve strength and range of motion and to ease pain.
- Assistive devices. Special pens, kitchen utensils, and other tools with big grips may be easier to use.
- Ice or heat. Ice may reduce swelling and pain. Heat, like a warm washcloth or a paraffin bath, can loosen stiff joints.
- Skin treatments. Medicated creams can give relief when you rub them on sore joints. Gels with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also help.
- Supplements. Many people take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for OA. Researchers are still looking into whether they help. Ask your doctor if they’re OK to try.