Rheumatoid Arthritis In Hands And Fingers: What You Need To Know
Rheumatoid arthritis , a chronic inflammatory disease, can strike anywhere in the body. Most frequently, RA attacks the small joints of the hand, fingers, and wrists. This makes it difficult to perform daily activities, such as tying a shoelace or gripping a coffee cup.
Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis. Women are three times more likely than men to develop RA and its complications of the hand and finger joints, which are often the first place RA appears.
More than 5,600 members of myRAteam report crippling joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and deformities in their hands. These symptoms not only hurt them physically, they also affect their self-esteem, work, and overall quality of life.
My hands hurt so bad theyre useless most days, said one member. I cant make a fist or bend my deformed fingers at all. Not being able to use my hands has taken a toll on me, another lamented. Yet another member shared, I’ve been told I have the hands of a 90-year-old at age 57.
How Does Ra Affect The Hands And Fingers
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joint lining or synovium the tissue that produces fluid to help joints move smoothly. The resulting stiffness, swelling, joint damage, and deformities make it difficult to use the hands. When joint damage becomes severe, it can lead to complete loss of joint function and the need for joint replacement surgery.
RA typically starts in the small joints of the hands. Joints most commonly affected are the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints better known as knuckles. RA hand symptoms can include:
- Creaking sounds during movement
- Overextended middle joint and bent fingertip
- Thumb flexing at the MCP joint and hyperextending at the PIP joint
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.
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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 Are The Signs Of Arthritis In The Hands
May 19, 2021
Achy, swollen hands? Stiffness in your wrists? Its common to assume these are symptoms of arthritis. While 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis, its far less frequent in the hands than people expect. Instead, what many mistake for arthritis is actually tendonitis. Let’s look at the difference between arthritis and other conditions, risk factors and treatments.
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Tips For Dealing With Arthritis Pain In Your Hands
Arthritis in the hands in a painful condition.
Arthritis, though a normal part of aging, is nonetheless uncomfortable at best and extremely painful at worst. While it may be frustrating to deal with this condition and its symptoms day after day, you are not helpless. In addition to medical treatment, there are also natural ways that you can work through some of the pain.
If you are living with arthritis pain in your hands, try these five tips for relief:
1. Limit movementOne of the simplest ways to limit the pain caused by arthritis is to identify the movements that make the symptoms worse and put a pause on activities that require those activities, at least for the short term. A doctor may recommend wearing a splint for a while to help immobilize the area that’s causing you pain.
2. Use ice and heatHot and cold may be opposites, but both can provide arthritis pain relief.
“An ice massage can do wonders for pain caused by physical activity,” Scott Burg, DO wrote for Cleveland Clinic. “Take a piece of ice and rub it in a circular motion over your painful joint. Just don’t do it for more than five minutes at a time so you don’t irritate your skin. You can use an ice pack with a cover, too.”
For heat, Burg recommended soaking your painful extremities in warm water.
4. Exercise your handsThere are a number of hand exercises that can provide relief from arthritis pain in the hands. For example, Mayo Clinic recommends the following stretch:
Are There Any Other Treatment Options Being Investigated
For osteoarthritis, some clinical research trials are underway in the U.S. exploring stem cell treatment. Early findings are encouraging. Stem cell therapy so far has shown to provide some pain relief and improvement in function. The ultimate goal would hopefully be to use stem cells to regrow cartilage.
Over the past decade, researchers developed many new medications for psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with more studies underway.
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During my current tenure with Stantec Consulting I have worked in a very diversified range of engineering including:—> Project Management—-> PVsyst & Helioscope design and analysis—-> Solar Conceptual Layout & Design–> CAD design for Control panel and electrical schematics–> BOM design and component specifications–> SCADA systems–> Data Collection for Utility Usage in Facilities –> Understanding of Grounding Principles–> Network Design including Fiber and Copper Ethernet–> Renewable energy including Solar and wind farms—> Proposal and BOM Generation
Signs Symptoms And Treatment
Our fingers are important! We use them constantly, all day long: to brush our teeth, to send emails, to cook our meals. When arthritis affects the fingers, everyday tasks become difficult and painful. So what can we do when our finger joints begin to cause problems?
This article provides more information about arthritis in the fingers, what causes it, and what you can do to help keep your fingers moving.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
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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 Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hands
Early symptoms include:
- Dull or burning joint pain, appearing hours or a day after increased use of your hands.
- Morning pain and stiffness in your hand.
- Swollen joints in your hand.
If you’ve had arthritis in your hand for some time:
- Symptoms are present more often.
- Pain may change from dull ache to sharp pain.
- Pain may wake you up at night.
- Pain may cause you to change the way you use your hand.
- Tissue surrounding your affected joint may become red and tender to the touch.
- Youll feel grating, grinding, cracking or clicking when bending your fingers.
- Your fingers cant fully open and close.
- Small bony nodules form on the middle joint of your fingers or at the top joints of your fingers .
- Your finger joints become large and deformed and abnormally bent, leaving your hands weak and less able to accomplish everyday tasks.
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Exercises To Help Hand Arthritis
Increase hand strength, improve finger and thumb mobility and keep arthritis symptoms at bay with this hand workout.
1. Hand Exercises for Arthritis
2. Grip Strengthener
3. Gentle Fist
4. Finger Rolls
5. Finger Bends
6. O Shape
7. The OK
8. Finger Lift
9. L Shape
10. Finger Stretch
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How Does Joint Pain In Hands And Fingers Affect Members
The symptoms of RA in hands and fingers significantly disrupt myRAteam members daily lives in many ways. Many members report that this type of arthritis makes it hard to grip, pinch, or squeeze things with their hands. Its frustrating to not be able to turn a doorknob, open jars, or lift heavy cookware, said one member. I need both hands to balance a coffee mug, explained another. I cant hold onto my pills without dropping them, said another.
Loss of hand function can also be dangerous. Members say theyve dropped a cup of coffee or lost control of a pot of hot water. One member said, I was changing the toilet paper roll and, because my hands don’t work, the holder shot out of my hand and popped me in the eye!
Home Remedies For Arthritis And Hand Joint Inflammation
Taking care of your joints is fundamental to keep them healthy and free from pain. However, some conditions like arthritis can cause inflammation and discomfort to the point of significantly affecting your quality of life. It’s important to get appropriate medical treatment according to your condition, but there are also some home remedies that can help improve the pain in your hands and reduce the inflammation.
Stay with us at oneHOWTO and we’ll explain the best home remedies for arthritis and hand joint inflammation. Read on!
If you suddenly experience pain and swelling in the joints of your hands and you don’t know why, it is very important to see your doctor for a check-up. An specialist can tell you what is the source of these problems and what to do about them.
If you know that you suffer from a condition that causes this problem, like arthritis, read on: these home remedies will be of great help to reduce your hand joint inflammation.
A very simple and effective home remedy to reduce the inflammation of hand joints is to apply tepid chamomile compresses to the area. Chamomile is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that has many health benefits.
Ginger herbal teas are also very effective for swollen joints in the hands. Just like chamomile, ginger root is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory with many health benefits.
You Are Not Alone: Finding Support For Ra In The Hands
How does RA in your hands and fingers affect your daily life? Has your rheumatologist found the right medication to manage your symptoms? What helps you successfully get through each day? Share your tips and experiences in a comment below or on myRAteam. You’ll be surprised how many other members have similar stories.
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Hand Exercises To Ease Arthritis Pain
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When arthritis affects the joints of the hands, it can cause pain and stiffness. That pain can get worse whenever you use your hand a lot for repetitive tasks.
For example, typing on a computer keyboard or gripping utensils in the kitchen can cause discomfort. You may also lose strength in your hands.
Weakness in your hands can make it hard to do even the simplest everyday tasks, such as opening jars.
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.
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Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain.
Adaptive Devices And Rest
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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.
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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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.
Other Causes Of Hand And Finger Symptoms
RA hand symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Some members of myRAteam discovered their hand pain was actually related to secondary Raynauds disease, a vascular condition that affects 10 percent to 20 percent of people with RA. Psoriatic arthritis, another autoimmune disease, can also cause hand and finger dysfunction as can pinched nerves in the neck.
A rheumatologist can diagnose the specific cause of symptoms in the hand with a physical exam and X-rays. X-rays can detect narrowing of joint space or erosions of the bone that could signal RA. Ultrasound and MRI technology has improved the ability to spot joint damage earlier in the course of the disease.
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