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:
What Is Arthritis Of The Hand
Arthritis is a disease that attacks the tissues of your joints. A joint is where two bones meet. Arthritis can attack the lining of your joint or the cartilage, the smooth covering at the ends of bones. Eventually the cartilage breaks down, the ends of your bones become exposed, rub against each other and wear away. You have many joints in your hand, therefore its a common site for arthritis to happen.
Arthritis of the hand causes pain and swelling, stiffness and deformity. As arthritis progresses, you cant use your hands to manage everyday tasks as you once could.
Tests For Rheumatoid Arthritis
If your doctor suspects that your joint pain and tenderness could be signs of rheumatoid arthritis, hell most likely refer to you a rheumatologist for testing to confirm the diagnosis. Naturally, youll feel a little nervous as you wait to see this new doctor, and youll probably have a lot of questions, too including wondering what tests are done to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.
The good news is that rheumatoid arthritis tests are mostly non-invasive and not painful. However, you should prepare for a relatively long appointment. Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis requires a very comprehensive exam because there is no one specific test that tells us a patient has RA, says John Davis III, MD, a rheumatologist and internist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I set aside an hour to evaluate a new patient.
Is there a test for rheumatoid arthritis? Yes but its not just one test that can confirm the diagnosis. Here are the key components of tests for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis:
Also Check: Is Coffee Good For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Be Patient With Your Body
Following an exercise routine can be difficult if you have arthritis.You may notice more pain when you start.As you improve your health and fitness, be patient.Being more active can help reduce the amount of pain you have.It can improve your balance and range of motion.You should give your body time to get used to it.You may be using muscles that you havent used in a while.Being a little sore is normal.Dont give up after one class.If your joints were a little sore, thats not a problem.
You Can Have Psoriasis And A Different Kind Of Arthritis That Is Not Psa
People with psoriasis can develop different types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis, and reactive arthritis so diagnosing PsA involves ruling out those other conditions.
Its often difficult to say in a first visit whether a patient definitely has psoriatic arthritis or another type of arthritis that just co-exists with psoriasis, says Dr. Kumar. PsA can take a long time to diagnose because a patient can delay seeing the doctor, then confirming PsA can require multiple labs and imaging tests.
The good news is that the diagnosis process for psoriatic arthritis is improving. Whereas PsA wasnt even recognized as a distinct condition decades ago , doctors are now better equipped with improved lab tests and imaging studies that help identify this disease so more patients can find relief.
Also Check: Can You Get Arthritis From Popping Your Fingers
Who Should Get Testing
Patients who experience inflammation, pain, or loss of mobility in joints should discuss testing for rheumatoid arthritis with their doctor, especially if symptoms occur in multiple joints or in matching joints on both sides of the body, such as both wrists. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Stiffness in the morning for 30 minutes or longer
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Firm lumps beneath the skin
These symptoms are often due to something other than RA when they last less than six weeks. The longer a patient experiences symptoms, the more likely the symptoms are to be due to RA.
Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis in its early stages can be challenging, as patients may experience few symptoms, but early diagnosis is important because early treatment may prevent joints from worsening or at least slow the process. When symptoms are present, they often differ from person to person and mimic the symptoms of other diseases. Testing is an important part of the process of determining whether symptoms are due to RA or another condition.
After receiving a diagnosis of RA, its important for patients to continue rheumatoid arthritis testing. Testing can assist doctors in assessing the severity of RA, as well as monitoring the efficacy of treatment, tracking disease progression, and detecting potentially serious side effects of treatment drugs.
Reaching A Ra Diagnosis
Once all of these steps have been conducted, doctors will look at all of the test results and reach a conclusion based on the overall picture. Some doctors take a more symptom based approach to diagnosing RA while others rely on blood tests and medical history to confirm a RA diagnosis.
This is why its possible to be diagnosed with RA but not test positive for antibodies or have a medical history of RA in your family. If the symptoms themselves are consistent with RA, then it can still be diagnosed.
That being said, the main criteria for diagnosing RA do not change. The patient must exhibit symptoms for greater than six weeks, symmetrical symptoms, as well as multiple joints being affected including fingers and hands.
Recommended Reading: Can Someone Die From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Patient Interview And Physical Exam
During the office visit, patients should:
- Let their doctors know about recent prior or ongoing infections
- Describe their joint pain and other symptoms, as well as when symptoms started
A doctor will examine the patient, listening to the patients heart and checking for things such as swollen joints, swollen fingers and toes, tender spots, and skin and eye abnormalities.
If a sexually transmitted disease or infection of the urethra is suspected, the doctor may also look at the patients genitals to note any rashes, sores, or abnormal discharge. The doctor may swab the area to run lab tests that check for infection.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Blood Tests
The rheumatoid arthritis blood tests that doctors perform to help diagnose the disease include:
- Rheumatoid factor
- C-Reactive Protein
- Antinuclear Antibody
None of these tests can singularly conclude that a patient has rheumatoid arthritis. Rather, doctors look at the combined results from all, alongside a number of other criteria including physical symptoms and genetics, in order to reach a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.
Recommended Reading: What Food Is Good For Psoriatic Arthritis
The Right Equipment Is With You
Like many types of exercise, Zumba classes will help you work up a sweat.You need to bring the appropriate items with you.Bring a 16 ounce water bottle filled with cold water or a low calories sports drink.Youll need to drink after 45 to 60 minutes of Zumba classes.Bring an exercise towel with you.You might need to towel off while you listen to a song.If you need a knee or ankle brace, make sure to bring it with you.Before you start your class, you need to put those on.
Question 3 Of : Symptoms
Recommended Reading: What Cherries Are Good For Arthritis
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help People With Arthritis
Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight reduce the risk of developing OA and can reduce symptoms if you already have it.
Eating a healthy diet is important for weight loss. Choosing a diet with lots of antioxidants, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, can help reduce inflammation. Other inflammation-reducing foods include fish and nuts.
Foods to minimize or avoid if you have arthritis include fried foods, processed foods, dairy products, and high intakes of meat.
Some research also suggests that gluten antibodies may be present in people with RA. A gluten-free diet may improve symptoms and disease progression. A 2015 study also recommends a gluten-free diet for all people who receive a diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disease.
Regular exercise will keep your joints flexible. Swimming is often a good form of exercise for people with arthritis because it doesnt put pressure on your joints the way running and walking do. Staying active is important, but you should also be sure to rest when you need to and avoid overexerting yourself.
At-home exercises you can try include:
- the head tilt, neck rotation, and other exercises to relieve pain in your neck
What Are The Parts Of A Joint
Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.
Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
Recommended Reading: What Can I Take Over The Counter For Arthritis Pain
What Can I Do To Make Living With Arthritis Easier
Changing your routine can make living with arthritis easier. Adjust your activities to lessen joint pain. It may help to work with an occupational therapist . An OT is a healthcare provider who specializes in managing physical challenges like arthritis.
An OT may recommend:
- Adaptive equipment, such as grips for opening jars.
- Techniques for doing hobbies, sports or other activities safely.
- Tips for reducing joint pain during arthritic flare-ups.
Arthritis Test Lab And Imaging Options
Beyond what can be determined in a physical exam, doctors may also conduct lab and imaging tests to confirm an arthritis diagnosis. Bodily fluids and an internal look at the joints can often reveal what external symptoms cannot.2,4
For example, if a doctor suspects that a patient has an inflammatory form of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lab tests are often used. These may include an antinuclear antibody test, rheumatoid factor test, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide test, and uric acid test. Other tests can be used to monitor arthritis conditions over time and see if a medication is helping a patient. Common monitoring tests include a salicylate level test, creatinine test, and muscle enzyme tests.
However, it is important to remember that there are limitations as to what lab tests can do and what they reveal. Especially in the early stages of an arthritis disease, patients may not test positive for arthritis even though their joints are worsening.5,6 This is why X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging tests are often used to make an arthritis diagnosis.7 During the process of obtaining an accurate diagnosis, people with joint pain can use over-the-counter solutions and home remedies, such as JointFlex, ice packs, and heating pads, to relieve the pain until a long-term treatment plan can be established.
You May Like: Is Milk Good For Arthritis
What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Its the most common form of arthritis.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine .
- Juvenile arthritis , a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
- Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis .
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.
You Can Find Other Aerobic Exercises To Do
It is a great class to take.Water aerobics can be used if you cant get to a Zumba class or want to incorporate other types of aerobic activities.The water and swimming based class is great for people with arthritis.Its low impact and the water helps prevent pounding on your joints.Using a bike.A stationary bike is good for people with arthritis in their knees.Its a low impact exercise that will help strengthen your knees and give you a great cardio workout.Walking more often.People with arthritis enjoy walking.It can improve joint pain and other symptoms over time.
Recommended Reading: What Do You Do For Arthritis In Your Knee
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Hand Surgery
Recovery time depends on many factors, including the severity of your condition, type of surgery you had, the skill of your surgeon and your compliance with therapy. Most people can return to their activities about three months after joint reconstruction surgery. Your team of caregivers can give you the best estimate of your particular recovery time.
Treating Arthritis Of The Knee
Ra Diagnosis: What Criteria Are Used To Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis
If a patient is showing early signs and symptoms of RA, a doctor can refer the patient to a rheumatologist a physician who specializes in arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. The rheumatologist will work with the patient and the patients primary care physician to reach a RA diagnosis and provide treatment.
Because there is no exact known cause of RA, doctors look at a number of different factors before reaching a diagnosis. To reach a diagnosis, physicians follow a set procedure looking for multiple criteria, rather than one individual test. This includes examining physical symptoms, looking at family and personal medical history, and performing blood and other diagnostic tests .
Some cases may be easier to diagnose than others, especially in the early stages of developing symptoms when symptoms may be less clear. Doctors work hard to ensure theyve looked at all possibilities and that their examination and testing results are consistent with most cases of RA.
Alternative Medicine For Arthritis
A variety of alternative therapies is used for arthritis. However, none of these has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of arthritis, so they may not be effective or safe. It is important to let your doctor know if you’re considering these types of treatments.
While some studies suggest that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are as effective as NSAIDs for reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness in osteoarthritis, recent large studies funded by the NIH suggest these supplements are not very helpful, except perhaps in some cases. Typical daily doses are 1,500 milligrams for glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams for chondroitin.
The antibiotic doxycycline may have some potential to delay the progression of osteoarthritis by inhibiting enzymes that break down cartilage. More research is needed to confirm these results.
The NIH considers acupuncture an acceptable alternative treatment for osteoarthritis, especially if it affects the knee. Studies have shown that acupuncture helps reduce pain, may significantly lessen the need for painkillers, and can help increase range of motion in affected knee joints.
The supplement SAMe has been shown in some studies to be as effective for osteoarthritis pain as NSAIDs.
You May Like: What Is The Most Painful Arthritis