What Symptoms Look And Feel Like And What To Do If You Can’t Shake The Ache
by Michelle Crouch, AARP, Updated December 20, 2021
En español |It’s not unusual to experience pain in your joints on occasion, especially if you’re active and participate in high-impact activities such as running. That unwanted ouch can be caused by injured muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint or by tendonitis, a sprain or a strain.
But if you start experiencing aching, pain and stiffness on a routine basis and particularly if the pain is right at the joint you may be developing arthritis, says rheumatologist Uzma Haque, M.D., codirector of clinical operations at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore.
Your risk of arthritis increases as you age, and its a leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting around 58.5 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Hallmark Symptoms Of Ra In The Fingers Thumbs And Wrists
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of RA in the hands can help distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from other types of arthritis that affect the hand, such as osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Keep in mind that these symptoms may be accompanied by pain in other joints as well as fever, fatigue, and a general feeling of being unwell.
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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 .
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When Hand Or Wrist Pain May Mean Arthritis
Learn about the various causes of hand or wrist pain, including different kinds of arthritis.
Many forms of arthritis and related conditions that affect different parts of the hands. Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling or numbness in the wrist and fingers. Pitted nails, painful ulcers or thickened skin that makes bending the fingers difficult may also occur. Here are some diseases that affect the hands.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, OA is a chronic condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement.
In hand OA, the joints most commonly affected by OA are the wrists, the joints at the base of the thumb, the middle finger joints and the joints closest to fingernails. In the finger joints, OA can lead to the formation of nodes .
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by a faulty immune system that primarily attacks joints . The result can be joint pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. RA commonly affects the wrist and finger joints. RA usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body . If untreated, the disease can cause joint deformities that make it difficult to use the hands.
Hand Osteoarthritis Home Remedies
These home treatments can help:
- Exercises. Your doctor or physical therapist can show you what to do to improve strength and range of motion and to ease pain.
- Assistive devices. Special pens, kitchen utensils, and other tools with big grips may be easier to use.
- Ice or heat. Ice may reduce swelling and pain. Heat, like a warm washcloth or a paraffin bath, can loosen stiff joints.
- Skin treatments. Medicated creams can give relief when you rub them on sore joints. Gels with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also help.
- Supplements. Many people take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for OA. Researchers are still looking into whether they help. Ask your doctor if theyre OK to try.
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What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In Your Hands
Posted on 25 May 2021
If you are experiencing symptoms that are making you wonder if you have arthritis in your hands, this article will be a good guide. It covers the types of arthritis that affect the hands and the symptoms associated with them, so that you can seek medical help and advice from your GP if needed.
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Hand Arthritis: Symptoms Signs And Treatments
Arthritis is inflammation of cartilage in the joints, which causes swelling and pain. There are two basic types of arthritis that most commonly affect the hand and fingers: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- is the most common type of arthritis and usually affects the hands of older people resulting from years of use. Similar to that of arthritis in larger joints, such as the hip and knee, there are multiple treatment options for hand osteoarthritis to help patients get back to the activities they love.
- can also cause similar pain and swelling in the joints, but this condition is caused by an autoimmune disorder, rather than wear over time, and so it can reduce hand function earlier in life than is common for osteoarthritis. Fortunately, with the advent of biologic therapies, people with RA are experiencing fewer serious hand problems and the disease’s progression has been dramatically slowed.
If you show signs of hand arthritis, your doctor will begin with a physical examination, look for points of tenderness, and assess the degree of stiffness. Imaging studies such as X-rays and MRI can be used to determine the extent of the degenerative changes.
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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.
How Will It Affect Me
The symptoms of hand osteoarthritis can vary between different people and over time. Youll probably have good days and bad days. You may find this depends on what youre doing, but sometimes there may not be any obvious reason.
If the joints are inflamed then theyre likely to look swollen and red and to feel warm and tender to the touch. Youre likely to have pain, especially when using your hands but sometimes even while resting. Swelling can also cause the soft tissues around a joint to stretch, which can make your hands feel weak or unstable.
As we use our hands such a lot in daily life, pain, stiffness or poor grip strength can cause problems with a wide variety of tasks and activities including:
- opening jars and cans
- holding a pen or cutlery
- doing up buttons or zips
- handling money
- shaving, brushing your teeth, or drying yourself after a bath or shower.
Hand osteoarthritis often tends to burn out after a time. It may be painful for a few years and then the pain may improve, especially if only the small finger joints are affected. Any firm, knobbly swellings or nodes that have developed will remain though. And the range of movement in the joints doesnt always improve even when the pain does.
Sometimes the weather, especially cold weather, can make your symptoms worse. However, the weather wont affect the long-term outlook or how the condition progresses.
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How Do You Treat Arthritis In The Fingers Hand Or Wrist
Treatment for arthritis of the hand, wrist or fingers depends on avariety of factors. Including:
- How far the arthritis hasprogressed
- How many joints are involved
- Your age or other medicalconditions
- Activity level
- If your dominant ornon-dominant hand is affected
Nonsurgical treatment options
- Medications: The most commonmedications for arthritis are anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen oraspirin, which stops the body from producing chemicals that cause jointswelling and pain.
- Rheumatology doctor: A rheumatologist hasspecial training in diseases that affect your joints, muscles and bones,including arthritis.
- Injections: An injection typicallycontains a steroid and long-lasting anesthetic which can provide pain relieffor weeks to months. Injections can be repeated but only a limited number oftimes during a certain time period.
- Splinting: Splinting can be used inconjunction with injections to help support the arthritic joint. Splints areusually worn during periods where the joint hurts however, wearing a splintnon-stop can lead to muscle deterioration. Therefore, a splint should stillallow functional use of the hand and be removed when periods of pain subside.
- Hand therapy: A hand therapist can teachyou exercises to help you move your wrist or hand and make them stronger. Theycan also show you how to ease the strain on your hand or wrist during yourdaily or work activities.
Surgical treatment for hand or wrist arthritis
What Are The Early Signs Of Arthritis In The Hands
The early symptoms of arthritis may vary depending on several factors such as the type of arthritis, age of the individual and which joint is involved.
Some of the early signs and symptoms of hand arthritis include
- Stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning
- Pain or ache in the affected area
- Swelling at the affected site
- The skin over the affected joint that may appear red and inflamed
- Loss of function of the involved joint or muscle
- A grating sensation or popping sound when the joint moves
- Loss of muscle mass at the affected site
- Presence of small, bony bump-like swellings on the hand
- The skin over the affected joint may be warm to the touch
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Deformities in the affected hands and fingers
- Fever, if the arthritis is due to an infection
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Risk Factors For Tendonitis
Anyone can get tendonitis, but some risk factors make it more likely. Those include:
- Being a weekend warrior when it comes to exercise: Quickly increasing your activity level without giving your body time to adjust can easily inflame a tendon.
- Working in a job that calls for repetitive motion: Construction workers, hairstylists, and others who frequently repeat the same motions are more prone to tendonitis. Using tools that vibrate can also be problematic because repetitive vibrations put excessive stress on tendons, according to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety.
- Playing certain sports: Baseball, basketball, bowling, golf, running, swimming, and tennis are all on the list of activities that could put you at risk for tendonitis. The common factor: repetitive motion.
- Having other medical conditions: People with rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and blood or kidney disease may be more likely to injure a tendon, though the reasons are not well understood.
- Getting older: Your flexibility and that of your tendons decreases after age 40.
- Taking certain medications: Its not so common, but antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone class like Cipro might increase the chances of a tendon rupturing. Taking a statin also occasionally causes this issue.
Inflammatory Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
Arthritis actually describes over 100 different conditions that affect joints and the surrounding tissue. They fall into two main categories: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis .
Inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease in which the mechanisms that normally protect your body attack your own joints and tissues instead. The most well-known example is rheumatoid arthritis , which tends to be symmetrical, meaning youll have problems in the same joints on both sides of your body, like both wrists or both knees.
The second type of arthritis and the most common form is osteoarthritis. A degenerative disorder, its caused by trauma or age-related wear and tear on your joints over time. OA is most likely to affect weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hip, lower spine or big toe, but it can also cause pain and stiffness in your thumb or finger joints.
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Arthritis In Hands: Signs Complications And How Can You Manage It
More than likely, you know of at least one person who has arthritis. Its quite a common condition. Or even, you probably have it. Its common, yes, but not quite well understood. There are different types.
The pain you get from pain may not be frequent but it may cause reduced motion in your affected joint, some deformity and even in terms of function.
Arthritis affects almost any joint in your body but it mostly affects your hand and wrist. So, hand arthritis which is also known as rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder that affects the joints in your hands.
The Signs And Symptoms Of Ra
Luckily, the signs and symptoms of early onset RA ARE heavily documented. Experts agree that the most common initial symptoms are as follows:
- You begin to experience a general feeling of pain or stiffness in your joints.
- Your joints begin to swell or turn red on a regular basis even when youre not engaged in heavily physical activities.
- These symptoms extend to four or more of your joints, including those in your hands and fingers.
- Your symptoms are symmetrical meaning that they equally affect both the left and right sides of your body.
- You experience a general sense of stiffness in your entire body when you wake up in the morning that often lasts for a half hour or more.
- Any of the above physical symptoms last for longer than six months in a row.
If you begin to experience any of these initial signs, you should absolutely consult your doctor to schedule a physical examination. Dont continue to ignore your body. Its trying to tell you something is wrong. Outside of the symptoms directly associated with RA, there are a number of indirect signs to be on the lookout for, too. These include, but are not limited to, ones like:
What Are Hand Psoriasis Treatments
You probably already know that psoriasis on the hands can be challenging to treat. While that can feel a little disheartening, know that there are still lots of options to try.
There are some treatments, such as certain topical creams or ointments, that can help with both psoriasis and eczema, Dr. Rosmarin says. The immune system is too active in the skin, so we have medicines that can tell the immune system to calm down.
Typically, the first-line treatment for psoriasis plaques on the hands is topical corticosteroids, which come in the form of anti-inflammatory creams, ointments, or gels. Sometimes, a doctor may recommend applying this with occlusionthis means wearing gloves or wrapping the hands, ideally to allow the medication to better penetrate. Other times, your dermatologist will recommend combining this medication with calcipotriene, an ointment that helps to slow skin cell growth.
Another topical application is acitretin. Its a form of vitamin A that can take three to six months of steady application to see results.
Unfortunately, psoriasis plaques can sometimes be so thick that its difficult for the topical medications to fully penetrate the skin. When this is the case, you may need to turn to the second-line treatments. These usually involve systemic treatments or light therapy.
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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.
How Can You Prevent Arthritis In Your Hands
If you have a family history that includes any type of Arthritis or if you have experienced a difficult trauma in your life, then it is for the best if you follow a few, simple prevention tips just to increase your chances of avoiding Arthritis.
So how can you prevent Arthritis in your hands and fingers? Maintaining a healthy weight, staying away from alcohol and smoking and including some type of physical activity are some of the best prevention tips that any doctor can give you. Simple hand and wrist exercises can help you to preserve your hand and finger function.
A healthy lifestyle is what will help you to avoid not only Arthritis but most of the popular diseases of the 21st century. So many joint supplement reviews available online, such as Relief Factor Review that may help you to alleviate joint pain.
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