Why See A Hand Specialist
The reason you should see a hand specialist if you are experiencing arthritis pain in the hands is simple: hand specialists are experts in treating conditions like arthritis pain in the hands. No other physician can give you the expert care that this type of physician offers.
Would you see a heart specialist for your diabetes condition or an endocrinologist if you broke a bone? Of course not! There are a variety of medical doctors specializing in every subfield of medicine possible. Because no single doctor can specialize in every subfield of medicine, patients see specialized doctors for specific needs. Arthritis is an orthopedic condition that affects the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic physicians are experts in treating all types of musculoskeletal issues. Therefore, you should see an orthopedic physician if you have arthritis.
Further, arthritis can affect any joint in the body. Orthopedic physicians often have specializations in different parts of the body. Hand specialists are orthopedic physicians who have specialized education and experience treating orthopedic issues in the hands and wrists. This makes them experts in this particular subfield of orthopedic care.
Why Am I Getting Lumps On My Fingers
Lumps and bumps of the fingers and hand causes Some of the most common causes of finger lumps and wrist lumps include: Bouchards nodesbony growths near the middle finger joints due to osteoarthritis. Ganglion cysta cyst or hard lump forming from joints or tendons. Carpal bossa mass of bone on the back of the hand.
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Who Gets Arthritis In Their Hands
You are more likely to get arthritis in your hands if:
- Youre older. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen after age 50. Rheumatoid arthritis typically first appears between the age of 35 and 50.
- Youre a woman.
- Youre overweight.
- Youve had previous injuries to your hand. If youve dislocated or broken any joints in your hands or fingers, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
- You’ve inherited genes that cause the development of arthritis.
Treatments Methods To Relieve Symptoms
Finger arthritis is easily diagnosed because it is common. Most treatments for finger arthritis will match treatments for arthritis in general. These can include medications like:
- Topical creams: These usually contain ingredients like capsaicin or diclofenac, which are applied over the skin around the joint and can relieve pain and soothe inflammation.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Acetaminophen , ibuprofen or naproxen sodium are common choices. Always take these in accordance with the guidance on the label.
- Prescription pain relievers: Celecoxib or tramadol . These are unlikely to be prescribed for mild symptoms.
Many patients also benefit from exercises to treat their finger arthritis. Some exercises that may help include:
- Make a fist: Slowly and deliberately form a fist, then release it until the fingers are straight again. This is a great way to get all your fingers and your whole hand moving at once, and its easy to do literally anywhere.
- Finger bends: Slowly bend each finger at each joint, holding it in each position for a few seconds. This is a great way to focus on an individual finger thats bothering you.
- Thumb bends: Gently touch your thumb to the base of your pinkie, or as close as you can comfortably reach.
- Finger lifts: Putting your hand flat on a table, gently lift each finger individually.
There are many more arthritis exercises than just these, so you can always talk to your doctor if you are unsure of what to do.
What Can I Do To Decrease Hand Arthritis Symptoms
Osetoarthritis involves degeneration of a joint or joints due to excessive wear and tear. While OA can affect joints throughout the body, it commonly affects those in the hand. People with hand OA often report feeling generalized pain and morning stiffness in the joints. In regard to appearance, people with hand OA often have enlarged knuckles and excessive bone growth on the sides of the fingers.
Although hand arthritis symptoms may be quite severe, there are many simple remedies that can help one decrease pain and stiffness.
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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.
How Do You Know If You Have First
Common symptoms include
- aching at the junction of your thumb and wrist
- pain that worsens with use, such as using keys, writing, or opening a jar
- poor ability to function, including weakness of grip
- a bony prominence over the joint, often due to extra bone growth
- pain at rest and/or at night if the arthritis is severe.
Your doctor may suspect osteoarthritis of the first CMC based on your symptoms and physical examination, but an x-ray can confirm the diagnosis.
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Treatments For Hand Oa
- Non-Drug Treatments: Reducing strain on joints with a splint or brace, adapting hand movements, doing hand exercises or using hot or cold therapy can help to ease pain.
- Drug Treatments: Medicines to ease OA symptoms are available as pills, syrups, creams or lotions, or they are injected into a joint. They include pain relievers like acetaminophen, counterirritants like capsaicin or menthol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids.
- Surgical Treatments: If medications or self-care activities fails to give relief, surgery may be an option. An orthopaedic surgeon can remove the damaged cartilage and fuse bones together or replace the damaged joint with a plastic, ceramic or metal implant.
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:
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What Is Arthritis Pain
Pain is your bodyÃ¢s alarm system. Pain tells you something is wrong. When part of your body is injured or damaged, nerves in that area release chemical signals. Other nerves act like tiny telephone wires and send these signals to your brain where they are recognized as pain. Pain Ã¢tellsÃ¢ you that you need to do something. For example, if you touch a hot stove, the pain signal makes you pull away your hand to prevent further injury. This type of pain is useful because it is your bodyÃ¢s way of protecting you from further injury.
Long-lasting pain, for example, the pain of arthritis, is a bit different. While chronic pain is also an alarm that tells you something is wrong, it often isnÃ¢t sufficiently relieved when you treat it. Controlling this type of pain is important since it can disrupt your life.
The methods used to control short-term pain, such as strong painkillers, are not useful for controlling the chronic pain of arthritis. Other methods such as those listed in this article can help.
Osteoarthritis Of The Hands
Get more information about the causes, symptoms and treatments of hand OA, which is very common and can be debilitating.
About half of all women and one-quarter of all men will experience the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis of the hands by the time they are 85 years old. A degenerative disease that affects all the tissues of a joint, OA leads to the breakdown over time of the smooth, protective cartilage on the ends of bones, so bones rub together, causing pain. The 29 bones of your hands and wrists come together to form many small joints that can be affected by OA.
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.
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Make A Few Wardrobe Changes
Minor changes to your wardrobe can reduce strain on your hands, helping to ease your overall pain and stiffness. For example, try wearing:
- Shoes that slip on or use Velcro rather than shoelaces
- Shirts that pull over the head rather than button up
- Pants that have elastic waistbands rather than snaps and zippers
Other lifestyle changes can also be helpful. For example, when cooking, use a jar opener, lightweight pots and pans, and kitchen utensils with large handles. An occupational therapist can give you additional ideas on how to reduce strain on hand joints.
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Are Glucosamine And Chondroitin Supplements Helpful For Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
Supplements are not reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration . They are not required to undergo the same rigorous clinical trial methods that medications must undergo in the U.S. Some clinical trials show benefits with pain relief however, there is no proof that these supplements slow the progression of osteoarthritis. If you plan to try these, always check with your healthcare provider before using supplements. These products may interfere with medications you currently take.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Dull or burning joint pain, morning stiffness, swollen joints in your hand are all symptoms of arthritis. Many types of arthritis could affect your hands. Many treatment options are available depending on your exact arthritis type. Medications can reduce joint pain and swelling. Researchers are still working on ways to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. See your healthcare provider if you think you have arthritis in your hands. They will perform a complete exam and offer you a complete treatment plan, which includes hand exercises, use of hot and cold packs, other lifestyle tips and traditional treatments including medications, braces/splints, steroid injections and surgery.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/06/2021.
What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
- The base of your thumb, where it meets your wrist
- One of the joints closest to your fingertips
- The middle joint of a finger
There’s no cure, but there are a lot of ways to protect your joints and feel better.
Without treatment, osteoarthritis gets worse over time. Itâs important to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan as soon as possible.
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The Amazing Opposable Thumb
Known more simply as the first CMC joint, it allows us to move our thumb through a wide range of motion. If you appreciate the many uses of opposable thumbs, you can thank the first CMC joint! Having opposable thumbs allows us to grasp objects, open jars, turn doorknobs, write, make a tight fist, turn a key, and perform countless other everyday activities.
Thats why the first CMC joint may be the most underappreciated joint in the body.
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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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
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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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.
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Avoid Working Through The Pain
The most important thing to remember is to avoid working through the pain. Pain is a sign that you need to stop what you are doing, take a break from the task, and modify the task so you can perform it in a pain-free manner.
To find an excellent doctor who is right for you, please call our Physician Referral Service at 866.804.1007.
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