Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hand
Many different types of arthritis can affect the hand. If you have any type of hand arthritis, you may notice joint pain and:
- Swelling in your wrists, fingers, and/or knuckles
- Redness and warmth in the skin over your wrist and knuckle
- Nodes or bony growths at or near the affected joints of the hands
- Symptoms that are worse in the morning or after lots of activity
Read more about Recognizing Osteoarthritis in the Hand
Carpal tunnel syndrome can also cause symptoms that are worse in the morning, so that is not necessarily a distinguishing symptom.
People who have autoimmune arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, may also feel tired and/or unwell.
What Treatments Are Available For Ra In The Wrist
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic relapsing disease, and the joint damage it causes is irreversible. Because RA can cause significant joint damage and deformity fairly quickly, early and aggressive treatment is recommended. Treatment usually begins with conservative options like medications and therapy. Surgery can be helpful when these approaches no longer provide adequate relief. Nonsurgical treatment options are primarily aimed at reducing damaging inflammation and may include:
- medicines like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and inflammation
- corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation inside the joint
- disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs like methotrexate, or special medicines called biologics or JAK inhibitors designed to target specific portions of the immune response system
Often, these medications are accompanied by physical or occupational therapy to help relieve joint stiffness and improve mobility in the joint. Assistive devices like pens or utensils with special grips may also help patients maintain mobility and function.
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Treatment Similarities And Differences
- Physical therapy exercises to relieve pressure and strengthen the affected area
- Changing your environment or activities to compensate for pain or loss of function
In some cases, however, carpal tunnel syndrome becomes so severe that surgery is necessary to treat the problem. An outpatient surgery is performed, usually under local anesthesia, to increase the size of the space within the carpal tunnel and relieve the pressure on the median nerve by cutting the transverse carpal ligament at the base of the palm. This surgery usually relieves all symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome once the incision is healedabout 10 to 14 days.
Arthritis may also become severe enough to warrant surgery, but the procedure is very different. Reconstructive surgery is sometimes required when deformity is severe in osteoarthritis, and joint replacement may be required for people with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis may also be treated with medications like disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs . Methotrexate is a DMARD commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Biologics like adalimumab , etanercept , and infliximab can also be used for this condition. These medications suppress the immune system to prevent further damage.
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Can You Prevent Hand Arthritis
Unfortunately, you cant prevent or delay osteoarthritis outside of avoiding injuries and possibly limiting your use of vibrating power tools. You dont have to worry about cracking your knuckles, thoughthat doesnt cause arthritis. And while arthritic joints may crunch or crack, these noises on their own dont signal that you have arthritis.
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The hand and wrist have multiple small joints that work together to help you get by you use them to type, write, tie a shoelace and grip onto shopping bags. However, untreated arthritis can lead to difficulty. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons pointed out that inflammation is the common denominator of arthritis. In healthy joints, smooth and slippery tissue called cartilage covers the end of the bones.
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How Is Arthritis In The Hands And Fingers Diagnosed
A physical exam is the first thing that your doctor would do. X-rays and an MRI are done as well just to determine at which stage is the inflammation. These techniques will help your doctor to find out which symptoms are present and what is the most proper treatment option.
*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.
If the doctor thinks that it is Rheumatoid Arthritis that he/she is dealing with, then blood tests might be done as well.
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How To Know If You Have Arthritis
Knowing if you have arthritis can be problematic. There are tons of different symptoms and more than a hundred different types of arthritis and related conditions. The sad thing, however, is that many older individuals tend to resign to their fate that joint pain and arthritis is all part and parcel of growing old. Younger people on the other hand simply dismiss the pain that they feel, attributing it to a simple sports injury that will recover with time. The thing about arthritis is that it can happen to anyone of any age and early diagnosis and treatment can really ease the pain and protect your joints. Ultimately, only a doctor can confirm if you have arthritis but it is always good to know the symptoms so you can protect your joints. Here are some steps you can take to evaluate your own health and see if you should be concerned about having arthritis.
The first step to checking if you have arthritis is to have a physical examination of the suspected joint. Joints that are functioning properly should have a complete range of motion without any pain, swelling or stiffness. If an area is chronically swollen, perhaps when you are engaged in a more intense activity and has a feeling of general warmth and tenderness, then perhaps it would be wise to consult your doctor. A good test to see if a joint is swollen is to compare it with the symmetrical joint on your other half of the body.
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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.
How Is Hand Osteoarthritis Diagnosed
It’s often possible for your doctor to diagnose osteoarthritis of the hand from your symptoms and a simple examination, without any need for tests. Although x-rays will show changes in the shape or structure of the joint, they’re often not needed to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests are sometimes helpful if there’s any doubt about whether it’s osteoarthritis or another type of arthritis that’s causing your symptoms.
Sometimes gout can affect the hands and this can look very much like osteoarthritis. If your doctor thinks it may be gout then they’ll want to check your urate levels through a blood test. Urate is a waste product which is normally flushed out of the body through the kidneys. But if it builds up it can form crystals in the joints, leading to sever pain and swelling.
It’s less common for the joints where your fingers meet your hand to be affected by osteoarthritis, so if you have pain and swelling in these joints your doctor may ask for blood tests to check for rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the hands and may look similar to osteoarthritis. There are no blood tests et present for psoriatic arthritis, but this type of arthritis is linked to the skin condition psoriasis. Your doctor may therefore ask if you or anyone in your family have a history of skin problems.
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What Other Questions About First
Despite how common this form of osteoarthritis is and how much trouble it causes, many questions remain. It would be helpful to know:
- Why does osteoarthritis develop in the joints of the hand in the first place?
- How can osteoarthritis be slowed, stopped, or reversed?
- How long does the improvement provided by occupational therapy last in people who have osteoarthritis of the first CMC?
- If symptoms improve after an initial course of occupational therapy and come back later, will repeat treatments work as well?
- Does occupational therapy work as well for men with this type of arthritis as it does for women?
- Does it work as well for severe arthritis as for milder cases?
- What elements of occupational therapy are most important, and are they widely accessible? For example, is bracing more important than exercise, and are certain braces or exercises better than others? Are experienced occupational therapists readily available for most people with this condition?
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.
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Those Aches In Your Hands Could Be Arthritis Heres What Can Help
Maybe one day you wake up with an ache in your fingers or at the base of your thumb. Or you feel a stab of pain when you pick up a dinner plate, cut your fingernails or turn a doorknob. You wonder if maybe you overdid it weeding your garden, or you have an overuse injury from computer work.
A lot of different things can cause hand pain, and one of them is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Anyone can develop it, and your risk is higher if you are over 50 and female.
Brittany Panico, DO, a rheumatologist at Banner University Medical Center Phoenix, explained that if you have this type of arthritis in your hands, youll often feel it when you pinch or grip things. It most commonly affects the first two joints below your fingernails and the joint at the base of your thumb.
Recognizing Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hands
Women are more likely than men to have arthritis in their hands, and often people experience arthritis symptoms in their hands before other signs of arthritis show up. Different forms of arthritis affect the hands in different ways. For example, psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis related to the skin condition psoriasis, is most likely to cause pain in the joints closest to the fingernails , while in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, cartilage can wear down in all the joints in the fingers and thumb. Symptoms of arthritis in the hands may include:
- Pain in some or all of the joints, including joints of the fingers, wrists, and thumbs
- The growth of bony knobs on finger joints
- Numbness in fingers
- Swollen, red, or warm joints
- Stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis
- Growth of lumps, or nodules, under the skin of the hands in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
- Fingers that look like swollen sausages in patients with psoriatic arthritis
- Difficulty with motions that require gripping and twisting, such as opening jars
The progression of arthritis in the hands can actually be measured. People with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis lose bone density, which can be measured with bone-density scanning, while the joint damage of osteoarthritis can usually be seen on X-rays.
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How Can I Protect My Sore Hands
Here are some ways to protect the joints in your hands:
- Take notice of pain it can serve as a warning that your joints are being overworked. Rather than giving up an activity altogether, try taking regular rests during the activity and learning ways to manage pain. You will usually find you can still do the things you enjoy without discomfort.
- Use larger, stronger joints for example, carry your shopping bags over your shoulder rather than in your hands.
- Spread the load over several joints try carrying things with two hands.
- Reduce the effort you have to put in there is a wide range of labour-saving tools and equipment available. Buy pre-cut vegetables and meat to make cooking easier.
- Avoid gripping things tightly find out about gadgets that can make gripping and holding objects easier.
- See an occupational therapist to learn more ways to make daily tasks easier and take pressure off your joints.
- Visit an Independent Living Centre. These centres have a wide range of tools and equipment on display. You can get advice, including where to purchase equipment, in person or over the phone. Occupational therapists are also available at the centres to provide advice about equipment. Although you can drop in at anytime, it is preferred that you call the telephone enquiry service beforehand.
Alleviate Pain With These Simple Treatments
Arthritis in the fingers can be quite uncomfortable, causing symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. These symptoms make hand motions like grasping and pinching difficult and can interfere with a persons ability to perform everyday tasks.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two types of arthritis that most commonly affect the finger joints. Depending on which type of arthritis affects your finger joints, you may experience additional symptoms.
Numerous remedies can help ease the discomfort from arthritis of the fingers, from hand exercises to help strengthen your fingers to over-the-counter and prescription pain medications and surgical treatments. This article explores these remedies after explaining the symptoms of arthritis.
Verywell / Theresa Chiechi
Symptoms caused by arthritis of the fingers include:
- Stiffness, especially in the morning
In OA, joint pain is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the tissue that cushions the joints. The three most common sites where osteoarthritis happens in the hand include:
- The trapeziometacarpal or basilar joint, or the base of the thumb
- The distal interphalangeal joint, or the joint closest to the fingertip
- The proximal interphalangeal joint, or the middle joint of a finger
OA sometimes also causes Heberdens nodes, bony nodules at the end joint of the finger, and Bouchards nodes, bony nodules at the middle joint of the finger.
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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.
Heres What Hand Arthritis Can Feel Like
Typically, your joints will ache or feel stiff. Its more common for you to notice symptoms when you wake up, in the evening and after activity rather than during activity. You might feel like your hands are stuck and have a hard time gripping, Dr. Panico said. You might notice pain when you twist, squeeze or lift things. It could be tough to sustain a grip or maintain your fine motor coordination. And you might hear a crunching or grating sound.
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How To Diagnose Arthritis In The Hands
Your doctor may rely on medical history, physical examination, and blood and imaging tests to determine the diagnosis.
- Physical examination: Swelling of the hands feels harder in osteoarthritis , whereas it is softer in rheumatoid arthritis .
- Blood test: It is performed to detect the presence of antibodies such as rheumatoid factor or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide that help identify RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis.
- Imaging test:X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging scans may reveal joint erosion in RA and the presence of osteophytes and loss of cartilage in OA.
How Doctors Diagnose Arthritis Hand Pain
To determine whats behind your hand pain, your doctor will rely on your medical history, a physical exam, and imaging and blood tests to make a diagnosis and determine what kind of arthritis hand pain you have.
Feeling a patients joints during the exam can help differentiate between OA and inflammatory arthritis, Dr. Byram says. The swelling feels harder in those with OA because extra bone at the joints, called osteophytes, forms over time. The swelling in RA and other inflammatory disease feels softer.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, can reveal joint erosion and osteophytes and loss of cartilage .
If your doctor suspects inflammatory arthritis, they will also order blood tests to detect the presence of certain antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP, that help identify RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis.
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