Hand Osteoarthritis Causes And Risk Factors
Osteoarthritis was once thought to happen because of wear and tear on your joints. Doctors now know thereâs more to the story.
On the ends of your bones, there’s a layer of smooth material called cartilage. It helps cushion your joints and allows them to slide easily. But over time, the cartilage gets worn down. The bones rub against each other, causing the symptoms of OA. The wear and tear can also cause other tissues in the joint to make inflammatory cells, which damage it more.
Certain things can make you more likely to have hand OA:
- Age. The older you are, the higher your odds.
- Sex. Compared with men, women are twice as likely to get it.
- Ethnicity. Rates are lower in African Americans.
- Weight. Thinner people are less likely to get it than those who have obesity.
- Injuries. This includes broken and dislocated bones.
- Changes in your genes. Your parents might have passed down a higher chance of OA.
- Joint problems. This includes infections, loose ligaments, overuse, and joints that arenât aligned the way they should be.
What causes flare-ups?
Occupational Therapy Eases Pain And Improves Function When Osteoarthritis Occurs In The Joint Connecting Thumb And Wrist
When it comes to arthritis, some joints seem to get all the attention. We talk about knees and hips an awful lot. Our knees and hips must work well for walking, and a third or more of adults over age 65 develop osteoarthritis in these joints, resulting in over a million joint replacements in the US each year.
But what about the first carpometacarpal joint that connects your thumb to your wrist? Thats surprisingly important, yet most people cant name it and only become aware of it once it becomes arthritic. Fortunately, research recently confirmed that a common therapy requiring no medication can effectively treat this type of arthritis.
Exercises For Treating Hand Arthritis
You can also perform specific hand exercises to improve mobility and strength, and reduce pain. Below are some hand exercises you can utilize to ease your hand arthritis.
Make a fist: This is as simple as it sounds just make a fist. It may not seem difficult, but when your hand is inflamed, stiff, and in pain, even making a fist can seem like a challenge. For this exercise, practice making and releasing a fist. Try to make your fist tighter and tighter each time.
Finger bends: With your hand wide open, take turns bending each finger one at a time. Hold the finger bent for a few seconds before releasing.
Thumb bend: Similar to finger bend, but this motion only requires the bending of your thumb. Once bent, hold for a few seconds, release, and repeat.
Make an O: Start with your hand open, but bring your fingers and thumb together as if youre creating the letter O. In this position, your fingers and thumb should have a slight bend to them. Hold this position, release, and repeat.
Table bend: Place your hand on its side, pinky side down, on top of a table your thumb should be facing the sky. Position your fingers as if you are giving a thumbs up fingers curled into palm, thumb up in the air. With thumb still pointing up, release your fingers so your hand looks like an L. Repeat.
Finger lift: With your palm face down on a table top, take turns lifting one finger at a time away from the table. Hold it up for a few seconds, then place it back down.
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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.
A New Study Confirms Effectiveness Of Occupational Therapy
The study enrolled 180 people with first-CMC osteoarthritis. Their average age was 63 and 80% were women.
Half were randomly assigned to receive occupational therapy while the other half only received information about osteoarthritis.
The results demonstrated that a three-month course of occupational therapy effectively relieved pain at rest and after exercise, and improved grip strength and function.
This study is among the best research evaluating occupational therapy for this condition. However, it had some limitations. Treatment assignments were not blinded: participants knew if they received occupational therapy or not, so expectations and the impact of the placebo effect could have affected the results. The study lasted just three months, so the impact of occupational therapy over the long term was not assessed.
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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.
Ask Your Doctor About Complementary Medicine
As interest in herbal medicine grows, conventional doctors have become more willing to assess the benefits of alternative remedies.
When treating arthritis, some herbs may complement your current medications. But its important to understand that herbs can cause serious side effects.
Buying herbal treatments from a reputable source is also essential.
The FDA doesnt monitor herbs for quality, purity, packaging, or dosage, so theres no way of knowing if a product is contaminated or contains inactive ingredients.
Discuss all arthritis treatment options with your doctor and dont stop taking prescribed medications unless they recommend it.
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You Shouldnt Stress Daily Tasks Like Tying Your Shoes Or Using The Television Remote Because Of Arthritis Ease Hand Pain With These Finger And Hand Exercises For Arthritis
If you consider the countless number of times you need your hands to do things throughout the day, they may be one of the body parts you use most frequently. From brushing your teeth to tying your shoes to turning on and off a light switch, your hands and fingers are involved in so many steps of your daily routine. And if youre a hand talker, they get even more work during the day! But many of these simple tasks can become quite painful if you have arthritis in your hands.1
There are things you can do to help with the discomfort of hand arthritis. For starters, rub some Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel on your hands at the first sign of symptoms. Its the first and only OTC gel to contain an NSAID, a powerful medicine for joint pain due to arthritis. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel helps you get a better grip on objectswhether its a paintbrush, hammer or shovelto tackle your next DIY project.
Hands exercises and stretches can also provide arthritis pain relief. Focus on using your hands and strengthening them to help reduce arthritis symptoms overall. How exactly? We asked industry experts Blake Dircksen, PT, DPT, CSCS, orthopedic physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy & Fitness in New York City, and Jordan Metzl, MD, sports medicine physician at Hospital For Special Surgery, to share their top picks for exercises that can help ease arthritis in the hands.
Exercises For Arthritis In The Hands Fingers
While doctors can help patients by offering treatments ranging from medications to surgical procedures, patients themselves can also help relieve this pain by performing certain exercises.
Hand exercises can help with strength, flexibility and range of motion in the joints, as well as the supportive ligaments and tendons of the hands and fingers. This can also help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Before beginning, its important to know that it is normal to experience some mild aching after exercising. However, if discomfort lasts for more than a few hours, you should perform fewer repetitions next time. If the exercises make your symptoms worse, stop doing them and go see your doctor.
5 Daily Hand Exercises for Arthritis
Although these exercises are quite simple, they can make a noticeable difference in joint pain and inflammation. However, if you only do them occasionally, you may not notice an effect. Therefore, we recommend you make hand exercises a habit by doing them at the same time each day, as well as in the same order.
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Exercise #: Wrist Stretch
Dont forget about your wrists, which can also get sore and stiff from arthritis. To exercise your wrist, hold your right arm out with the palm facing down. With your left hand, gently press down on the right hand until you feel a stretch in your wrist and arm. Hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat 10 times. Then, do the entire sequence with the left hand.
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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.
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Exercise #: Finger Lift
Place your left hand flat on a table, palm down. Starting with your thumb, lift each finger slowly off the tableone at a time. Hold each finger for a second or two, and then lower it. Do the same exercise with every finger of the left hand. After youre done with the left hand, repeat the entire sequence on the right hand.
Part 9 of 9: Wrist Stretch
Is There A Test For Arthritis
Your symptoms and medical history as well as an examination of your hand and wrist can help to diagnose arthritis. Often, X-rays of the hand and wrist will show signs of arthritis. If inflammatory arthritis or infection is suspected, additional tests may be needed to determine the case of the arthritis.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand/wrist
Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand is most common in the wrist and knuckles. Often the joints feel hot and look red. The disease is symmetric, thus what occurs in one hand usually occurs in the other.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand/Wrist
- Sudden inability to straighten or bend a finger
- Numbness and tingling in hand
- May hear a squeaky sound as they move their hands and fingers
- May feel a snap or locking sensation in the hand and fingers
- Deformity in which the middle finger joint becomes bent
- Deformity where the end of the finger is bent and the middle joint over extends
Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand/Wrist Treatment Options
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but medications are available that slow the progression of the disease. Optimal care involves a team approach among the patient, physicians, and therapists. The care of the rheumatoid patient requires not only a hand surgeon but also a hand therapist, rheumatologist, and the patientÃ¢s primary care physician. The rheumatologist is often the physician that monitors and decides the specific type of medicine that is felt to be the most effective for the patientÃ¢s stage in the disease process.
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Symptoms Of Arthritis In Hands May Include:
- Pain when using hands over a prolonged period
- Swelling and inflammation the more the swelling the more difficult it is to use the joint
- Difficulty with precise motions like gripping and twisting, when opening jars or buckling seat belt
- Stiffness in the fingers, especially in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis in hands
- Numbness in fingers
- Warmth-joint is warm to touch
- Changes to the surrounding joints for example, if thumb is inflamed fingers will be more mobile
- Looseness from loss of ligaments joints will appear larger from swelling and bone changes
- Grating and grinding from loss of cartilage
- Cysts lumps, or nodules, under the skin of the hands and on finger joints
Early diagnosis and treatment is the key. The progress of joint damage sustained by osteoarthritis can usually be seen on X-rays. Doctors can utilize bone-density scan to help diagnose arthritis in hands an early stage even if the x-rays look normal.
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Green Tea And Other Beverages
Many teas contain bioactive polyphenolic compounds that contribute significant antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, which may benefit people with arthritis. A 2016 study of people with arthritis found that green tea supplementation improved disease activity. Another 2018 study found that green tea extract might control pain and improve knee joint physical function in adults with osteoarthritis.
Instead of sipping on soda, drink green or oolong teas, which are both made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Additionally, if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. If you do choose to have an alcoholic drink, opt for red wine, which may have anti-inflammatory effects.
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Learn New Cooking Skills
Whether you love to cook or not, chances are you at least stir sauce or chop veggies from time to time. Even these sous chef efforts benefit from joint protection to prevent arthritis hand pain. For example, instead of stirring the sauce with your thumb and finger wrapped around the handle, hold your thumb on top of the utensil like you were holding an ice pick and stabbing ice and stir using shoulder motion. This method takes pressure off the joints and utilizes your shoulder to stir the sauce. Dodge suggests using kitchen tools with large handles and electric appliances, such as a can and jar openers and food processors. Check out more kitchen hacks for easier meal prep.
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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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Consider Topical Pain Medication
Over the counter gels, balms, creams, or patches are ideal for hand joints, which lie just below the skin. Regardless of how they are applied, most topical arthritis pain relievers fall into these categories:
- Salicylates, which have mild anti-inflammatory effects
- Counterirritants, which distract from pain
- Capsaicin products, which distract from pain and may have a role in blocking pain signals
- Cannabidiol products
- Lidocaine products, which work as local anesthetics
While topical products are generally safe, their ingredients can enter the bloodstream and produce side effects or interact with other medications. Its advisable to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before trying any new medication.
See Topical Pain Relief for Arthritis
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Exercise #: Table Bend
Place the pinky-side edge of your left hand on a table, with your thumb pointed up. Holding your thumb in the same position, bend the other four fingers inward until your hand makes an L shape. Hold it for a couple of seconds, and then straighten your fingers to move them back into the starting position. Repeat 10 times, and then do the same sequence on the right hand.
Part 8 of 9: Finger Lift