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.
How Are The Hands And Wrists Structured
There are 27 small bones that make up each hand and wrist. Eight of those bones are in your wrist. Each finger has three bones, and the thumb has two. There are five bones in the palm of your hand, connecting each finger and the thumb with the wrist.
There are more than 30 muscles that control the hand and wrist. These are in your hands, wrists and forearms.
Muscles are attached to bones by tendons. These are small but very tough pieces of connective tissue. Tendons pass through a bony passage in your wrist, known as the carpal tunnel. The median nerve also passes through this tunnel.
Surgical And Nonsurgical Treatments For Arthritis Of The Thumb
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and cartilage loss within the joint. There are several types of arthritis. The most common typeosteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear arthritisoccurs commonly in the joint at the base of the thumb, where the thumb meets the wrist. This joint, called the carpometacarpal joint or the basilar joint, is important when trying to grip or pinch. Thumb arthritis is more common in women than men and increases in frequency over the age of 50 years.
Symptoms common in patients who have thumb arthritis include:
- Pain at the base of the thumb
- Swelling at the base of the thumb
- Grinding sensations when moving the thumb
- Painful and limited movement of the thumb
- Difficulty gripping
- Pain when opening jars, turning keys, etc.
Most people who have arthritis in the thumb report that their symptoms are worsened by activities, particularly repetitive activities. People who work with their hands, such as manual laborers, or even people who enjoy activities such as knitting or woodworking may notice pain at the base of the thumb as they continue their activities. In fact, those who have an occupation with repetitive movements are twice as likely to develop localized osteoarthritis. Many people with this condition find themselves rubbing or massaging the base of their thumb in order to relieve the discomfort.
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Simple Ways To Manage Hand Osteoarthritis
When osteoarthritis affects your hands, everyday activities such as opening jars and using a cell phone can be difficult. Arthritic joints in the hands or wrists may be painful, stiff, and weaker than normal. Thankfully, there are many ways to help manage this condition.
Osteoarthritis in the hand or wrist joints can make it hard to open jars or grip objects. SeeRecognizing Osteoarthritis in the Hand
Read on to learn 5 simple strategies for coping with osteoarthritic pain in the hand.
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.
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Staying Physically Active Despite Hand Arthritis
Your doctor will tell you and probably has already that staying physically active is an important part of managing arthritis. In fact, according to a study of 5,715 adults with arthritis over age 65, a lack of regular, vigorous physical activity doubled the risk of functional decline. In other words, the less physically active the participants were, the more likely they were to become disabled.
Of course, despite data showing that physical activity helps people with arthritis become stronger and more flexible, anyone with arthritis will tell you that sometimes pain or stiffness makes it hard to get going, let alone lift weights at the gym. People with arthritis often give up activities they think of as optional, such as exercising or gardening, in order to have enough energy for the activities they feel obligated to do, such as cleaning the house. One study found that only 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women with arthritis met federal guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.
If symptoms of arthritis in your hands or elsewhere are preventing you from participating in the physical activities you used to enjoy and that are good for you it may be time to find new ways to be active. For example, you may want to experiment with water activities such as swimming, or try tai chi, dance, or walking .
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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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 white.
- 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.
Who Gets Thumb Arthritis
Arthritis of the thumb basal joint is very common. The base of the thumb is the second most common site for arthritis of the hand; only the knuckles out near the tips of the fingers are affected more often.
Women are about three times as likely to get thumb arthritis as men, but not all of these cases will have symptoms. Women have thumb arthritis symptoms 10 to 15 times more often than men. Thumb arthritis usually begins after age 40, and previous injury to the thumb increases the risk of developing thumb arthritis.
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How Is Thumb Arthritis Diagnosed
To make a diagnosis of thumb arthritis, your doctor will start by gathering your medical history, discussing symptoms, prior injuries, and what activities cause you pain.
For the physical examination, your doctor will hold the basal joint while rocking your thumb back and forth, Dr. Luo says. If that causes pain or a grinding sound, it means the bones are rubbing directly against each other and likely have thumb arthritis. An X-ray can confirm the diagnosis.;
What Can I Expect When Recovering From Hand Surgery
From surgery to complete recovery, surgical treatment for basal thumb arthritis takes about three months. After surgery, you will have to wear a thumb splint for 4-8 weeks, depending on what surgical procedure is used. Once youre done with the splint, a progressive physical therapy program helps you regain mobility and strength in your hand.;
Call 1-888-847=8823 to schedule a consultation with a Virtua hand surgeon.
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Osteoarthritis In The Thumb
Osteoarthritis is a wear and tear type of arthritis that happens when your protective joint cartilage becomes damaged , you lose joint fluid and your bones start grinding against each other causing bone spurs, pain and limited joint mobility. When it happens in your thumb is is called Osteoarthritis in the Thumb.
This is the most common type of arthritis in the thumb and affects a large part of the population, particularly after you reach 40 years of age. It can happen to men or women and usually is caused by performing repetitive type movements for a long period of time. Osteoarthritis doesnt sneak up on you, but is a gradual process.
There is plenty you can do to stop arthritis in the thumb pain and even reverse osteoarthritis permanently if you treat the cause of osteoarthritis instead of just chasing symptoms. Look at the thumb arthritis treatment at the end of this article to heal your arthritis pain for good. For more information on this type of arthritis in other joints see: Osteoarthritis Treatment.
What Are The Causes Of Basal Thumb Arthritis
The basal joint is a very mobile joint, which allows the wide range of movement we need for hand use such as grip,;pinch, and fine manipulation. This high mobility leaves the joint with poor stability, which increases the risk of damage to the tissues around the joint.;
You are more at risk if:
- you are more than 40 years old
- your work involves repetitive movement or loading of your thumb
- you have had a previous injury or fracture to your basal thumb
- you have other family members with thumb base osteoarthritis.;
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.
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 To Treat The Gripping Pain Of Thumb Arthritis
By , Hand Surgeon, Virtua Hand Surgery & Rehabilitation;
You probably dont think about it, but your thumbs help you do many things like text, turn knobs, grip steering wheels and carry bags. Since you use your thumbs in nearly every hand movement, thumb pain can be especially disabling.
If you experience this pain, you may have arthritis at the base of your thumb, also called basal thumb arthritis. Whats key is that you dont have to just deal with it. This condition is treatable through conservative management, and in advanced cases, surgery.
What Treatments Are There For Arthritic Thumbs
Once a doctor makes a diagnosis of arthritis, they will talk to you about your different treatment options. Although there is sadly no cure for arthritis in the thumb , there are many ways to manage the symptoms of arthritis. Combining several of these options may give you the most effective relief from painful arthritis symptoms:
Although the pain associated with arthritic thumbs can often be extreme, taking the above measures should offer some relief. By regularly moving and exercising your thumb, and applying a topical treatment to relieve symptoms, you can fight arthritis and continue to pinch, grasp and give a big thumbs up, all day long. You may also use pain relief cream to alleviate your symptoms.
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Exercises That Help Relieve Arthritis In The Fingers And Hands
If someone is pain free, it is critical to keep joints in good range of motion. Simple shoulder shrugs, wrist, and finger range of motion exercises help keep joint range of motion, says physical therapist Charles J. Gulas, PT, PhD, GCS, dean of the School of Health Professions at Maryville University of St. Louis. Being pain free is the key, Gulas stresses, especially when doing exercises intended to build strength. When pain acts up, rest and pain management may be a better bet.
Try these range-of-motion exercises to keep your hands, fingers, and thumbs flexible and to ease symptoms of arthritis in the fingers and in the hands overall:
- Close your fist and then gradually open your hand, stretching your fingers out, then close slowly into a fist again.
- Make circle motions with your thumb, keeping it straight.
- Stretch your thumb away from the palm of your hand, then use it to touch each fingertip.
Repeat these exercises 3 to 10 times daily. Stop if you feel pain in a joint or if you’re experiencing additional pain once youre done. Some people find that doing these hand exercises under warm water is helpful. If you have osteoarthritis, you may need to wear a splint, wear a compression glove, or use another type of support to help reduce wear and tear on your joints during your daily activities. Ask your doctor or a physical therapist to recommend the type of device that may help you.
Losing Your Grip From Arthritis
While your gender may predispose you to hand osteoarthritis, and in particular thumb arthritis, fractures or other injuries to the joint also may increase the likelihood of developing this condition. When osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to wear away, the shock and impact absorbing function of the cartilage is lost and the bones can rub against each other, causing stiffness and pain.
Symptoms that signal thumb arthritis include pain with activities that involve gripping or pinching, swelling and tenderness at the base of the thumb, and an aching discomfort after prolonged use. The joint also may appear enlarged or develop a bony prominence or bump over the joint, with limited motion.
An X-ray may show the severity of the osteoarthritis, but the x-ray findings do not necessarily correlate to the severity of symptoms, Dr. Shapiro says.
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Symptoms Of Thumb Arthritis
Initial symptoms of thumb arthritis include pain and swelling around the wrist and the base of the thumb as well as progressive weakness. Patients find that it becomes increasingly difficult to twist open jars or even turn a doorknob. In severe cases, even holding a pen or utensil can be very painful. The base of the thumb may look enlarged and out of place. Stiffness and decreased motion of the thumb can be minimal or significant, depending on the severity of disease.
Has Any Research Been Done
There are several kinds of research that are continuing currently. One of the researches includes treatment of thumb arthritis using viscosupplementation . The use of viscosupplementation has been compared to the use of corticosteroids and the administrations of a placebo.
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Tips For Preventing Arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis. In fact, most treatments for arthritis are aimed at early recognition and prevention. Genetics can increase your likelihood for developing arthritis, as can a strong family history of the disease. Women are also more prone to arthritis than men.
You may try to prevent arthritis and still develop the disease. However, you can take actions to reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This can help to fight off OA.
- Dont smoke, or quit smoking. This may reduce your chance of developing RA.
- Try to avoid injury when playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- If your job requires a lot of pushing, pulling, or lifting of heavy objects, take precautions to avoid injury to your joints.
- If your job calls for a lot of typing, practice good posture. If necessary, get a special keyboard, wrist cushion, or pad.
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.
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