What You Can Do
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason why you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions and any history of injury to the painful joint.
- Write down key personal information, including any major changes or stressors in your life.
- Make a list of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.
- Ask a relative or friend to accompany you, to help you remember what the doctor says.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Arthritis Pain Or Muscle Pain: How To Tell The Difference
As a Good Samaritan, you helped your neighbour who was moving his couch up to the third floor. The result: your back is throbbing with pain.
Most active people sometimes come up against a few obstacles that can temporarily affect their ability to move and require taking pain medication. A wrong move, a fall or an injury are a few events that can be a source of muscle pain or inflammation. When these events occur, it seems a lot of us line up to read the dizzying selection of product packages on display in the analgesics and anti-inflammatory section at the pharmacy. Faced with such a wide choice of products, it is normal to get confused, especially when we are not exactly certain just what kind of pain is bothering us.
How Will Your Doctor Know If You Have Thumb Arthritis
Although small, our thumbs are mighty. The remarkable mechanics of our thumbs allow us to use our fine motor skillsincluding pinching, snapping and grasping. That is why a painful thumb that keeps us from being able to write or grab a handle is no laughing matter. If you have thumb pain, your thumb is stiff or swollen, and your grip feels weak, your next likely step is diagnosing your thumb pain with a visit to your doctors office. He or she will determine if arthritis is the cause of your thumb pain, and if so, which kind of arthritis you have.
Looking for more information on how to treat your thumb problem?
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How Tendonitis Is Treated
There are many ways to ease the pain of tendonitis. Sometimes resting the impacted area and applying ice is enough to do the trick. But additional treatment might include:
Whatever option you and your doctor decide on, you should know that most people fully recover from tendonitis. Sometimes the problem even resolves on its own, though it could take several weeks or even months so plan to be patient.
How Tendonitis Is Diagnosed
If you suspect you have tendonitis or if you have pain and arent sure if its tendonitis or arthritis there are a few ways your doctor may diagnose you. These include:
- A physical exam: Your doctor will ask questions about your pain symptoms and review your medical history. They will also manually feel the impacted area. Paying attention to the specific location of the pain is very important, says Dena Barsoum, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Tendonitis can happen almost anywhere in the body, but it often happens around the joints at the hip or in the hamstrings, shoulder, elbow, or around the foot and ankle, she says.
- Ultrasound: If your doctor is having trouble pinpointing the source of your pain, an ultrasound may be useful.
- MRI : MRIs arent usually necessary for diagnosing tendonitis, but your doctor may order one if they need to see more detail than what an ultrasound provides, says Dr. Barsoum.
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Do I Have Thumb Arthritis
Do you repeatedly hear yourself say my thumb hurts because of the pain you feel at the base of your thumb when you pinch or grasp something? If so, you may have CMC joint arthritis, also known as thumb arthritis. There are 3 stages of thumb arthritis, which is one of the most common forms of arthritis.
The good news is there are things you can do to help ease your pain and lessen the progression of your arthritis.
|for more information on how to treat your thumb problem|
When To See A Doctor About Early Arthritis Signs
You should see a doctor right away if one of your joints suddenly becomes swollen, red and hot to the touch, or if you can’t bear weight on it at all, since those can be signs of gout or a serious infection, Haque says.
Arthritis has no cure, but there are steps you can take to minimize pain and stiffness, says Rochelle Rosian, a rheumatologist with the Cleveland Clinic Department of Rheumatologic and Immunologic Diseases. There is a lot we can do to help you feel better, she says. You can live a long and healthy life with arthritis.
Your primary care doctor may be able to treat your symptoms if they’re mild, or he or she may refer you to a rheumatologist, a sports medicine doctor, an orthopedist or a podiatrist, depending on your symptoms and where your problem is located.
Expect your doctor to ask you what makes the pain better and what makes it worse, how long you’ve had the pain and stiffness and whether you have had any trauma to the area. It’s not unusual for a high school sports injury to manifest as arthritis in a joint decades later, Rosian says.
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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.
What Stands Out About Yale Medicines Approach To Thumb Arthritis
The physicians in Yale Medicines Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery Program specialize in evaluating and treating injuries and musculoskeletal disorders that affect your daily movements. We offer the latest technological advances and we are active in research that can lead to better treatments.
At Yale Medicine, we offer the complete range of care to patients, with occupational therapists on site at multiple locations and a new state-of-the-art outpatient surgery center at Yale New Haven Hospitals St. Raphael Campus, Dr. Luo says.
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How Is Basal Thumb Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask what you are able to do and what makes your pain worse. A physical examination will be carried out with close attention to your basal thumb joint. There are no specific blood tests for basal thumb arthritis, but tests may be made to exclude other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and septic arthritis.X-rays are not needed to diagnose basal thumb arthritis but can be helpful in some instances. X-ray findings are not a good guide to how severe symptoms may become and x-ray findings do not match the amount of pain or impairment you experience. X-rays are usually only helpful if it has been decided that you need surgery, to help the surgeon plan what surgery they should do.
Could Your Thumb Pain Be Basal Joint Arthritis Heres How To Tell And What To Do About It
Just as wear and tear can occur in the joints in the knees and hips, cartilage in the hands can wear down over time. Over time, the cartilage at the base of the thumb could break down and become inflamed, starting to show signs of a condition called basal joint arthritis: arthritis of the thumb. The condition is painful and can make everyday activities harder. Recognizing and treating basal joint arthritis is the first step to helping ease the pain.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Thumb Arthritis
Thumb arthritis typically occurs after age 40. It is more common in women, but it can affect men, too. There is a genetic predisposition that makes people more likely to develop thumb arthritis.
Thumb arthritis is unbelievably common, and if we look at the X-rays of people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, 30 to 50 percent of that population can have it, Dr. Luo says. But not everyone will have symptoms that are severe enough to require any treatment.
Types Of Finger Arthritis
There are three types of arthritis that commonly affect the fingers:
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, also called wear-and-tear arthritis, is the most common type of finger arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes normal cartilage to wear away. This exposes bare bone at the joints. The most frequently affected joints in the hand are the knuckles of the mid-finger and fingertip and the joint at the base of the thumb.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis causes a different type of joint destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects the whole body. It causes the immune system to attack the soft tissues surrounding the joints. The most commonly affected joints in the hand are the knuckles at the base of the fingers .
- Gout: Gout is a condition that occurs when crystals develop within the joints. These crystals can form in one or more joints when there is too much of a substance called uric acid in the body. While the big toe is the most commonly affected part of the body, gout can also develop in finger joints.
Rarely, other types of arthritis can also cause problems in the fingers.
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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.
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.
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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.
Surgical Options For Thumb Arthritis
Surgery can be a helpful treatment for patients with severe thumb arthritis. The usual surgical treatment is to remove the arthritic bone, relieving the pain and inflammation of the worn-out joint. There are different surgical procedures to accomplish this goal, including a trapeziectomy. In some situations, your surgeon may choose to replace the removed bone with a tendon graft, with an artificial implant, or with nothing at all. Alternatively, your healthcare provider may consider fusing the joint, to eliminate all motion at the base of the thumb.
The good news about surgery is that, in appropriately selected patients, surgical treatment of thumb arthritis is very successful. Patient satisfaction with surgical treatment is about 9095%, meaning most patients feel very good after surgical intervention. There are potential complications of surgery, including infection, nerve injury, and persistent pain. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to know more about the surgical treatment of thumb arthritis.
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Treating And Managing Thumb Arthritis
Once youâve been diagnosed with thumb arthritis, your doctor may suggest non-surgical treatment. This is most likely for cases of early-stage arthritis. These management techniques include:
- Icing your joint for 5 to 15 minutes several times each day
- Anti-inflammatory medication, like aspirin or ibuprofen
- A supportive splint to reduce thumb movement
- A steroid injection depending on how far along your arthritis has developedâ
If your thumb arthritis progresses into a worse condition and the management plans arenât working, you might need surgery. There are different options that your doctor may suggest. You can talk to your doctor about which is right for you. â
Bone fusion. Your doctor may suggest fusing the bones of your joint together. This will greatly reduce how much you can move your thumb.
Partial joint removal. You may have to get part of your joint removed and have it rebuilt. Your doctor will do this by using a part of your tendon or an artificial option.
You’ll want to take note of your range of movement and pain level. This will help your doctor decide the next steps in your arthritis management plan. â
Thumb arthritis will wear down your joints more as you age. If caught early, however, you can start management plans quickly to hopefully reduce the amount of pain and limited thumb movement you experience later.
Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
Osteoarthritis often affects three main areas of your hand:
- the base of your thumb
- the joints closest to your fingertips
- the middle joints of your fingers
Your fingers may become stiff, painful and swollen and you may develop bumps on your finger joints. Over time, the pain may decrease and eventually disappear altogether, although the bumps and swelling can remain.
Your fingers may bend sideways slightly at your affected joints or you may develop painful cysts on the backs of your fingers.
In some cases, you may also develop a bump at the base of your thumb where it joins your wrist. This can be painful and you may find it difficult to perform some manual tasks, such as writing, opening jars or turning keys.
Page last reviewed: 19 August 2019 Next review due: 19 August 2022
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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.
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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Recognizing Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hands
Women are more likely than men to have arthritis in their hands, and often people experience arthritis symptoms in their hands before other signs of arthritis show up. Different forms of arthritis affect the hands in different ways. For example, psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis related to the skin condition psoriasis, is most likely to cause pain in the joints closest to the fingernails , while in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, cartilage can wear down in all the joints in the fingers and thumb. Symptoms of arthritis in the hands may include:
- Pain in some or all of the joints, including joints of the fingers, wrists, and thumbs
- The growth of bony knobs on finger joints
- Numbness in fingers
- Swollen, red, or warm joints
- Stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis
- Growth of lumps, or nodules, under the skin of the hands in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
- Fingers that look like swollen sausages in patients with psoriatic arthritis
- Difficulty with motions that require gripping and twisting, such as opening jars
The progression of arthritis in the hands can actually be measured. People with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis lose bone density, which can be measured with bone-density scanning, while the joint damage of osteoarthritis can usually be seen on X-rays.