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.
Integrative Medicine Treatments For Hand Arthritis
Many doctors today recommend a treatment plan that uses integrative medicinea combination of conventional Western medicine and alternative medicine. Both Western and alternative treatments are supported by research.
Occupational therapy For many patients, hand exercises can be the most cost-effective treatment option.1 A licensed occupational therapist can teach a person exercises that help strengthen the joints in the wrists and fingers, improve hand dexterity, and protect joints from further degeneration.
SplintingStabilize and support the hand joints with splints. There are several different types of braces, including smaller braces that stabilize individual knuckles and larger ones that stabilize the wrist and hand. Bracing at night can prevent pain from interrupting sleep .
People who find braces too cumbersome or rigid to wear all the time may wear compression gloves or sleeves instead. The goal of these products is to support joints while allowing for some flexibility.
MedicationsBoth topical and oral pain medications can temporarily ease pain caused by hand arthritis.
- Topical pain relievers come in the form of creams, balms, gels, or patches, and are sold over-the-counter. Certain topical products require a physicians prescription.
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.
You May Like: Arthritis In Fingers Prevention
You May Like: Arthritis Remedies Hands
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.
How Do You Remove Arthritic Nodules From A Hand
It is possible that disease-modifying, anti-rheumatic drugs may reduce the size of an arthritic nodule, but not all patients experience this, according to WebMD. Some of these drugs, such as methotrexate, may cause more nodules, so patients are advised to work with doctors to determine the pros and cons.
Steroid injections may help to shrink nodules on the hand, states WebMD. If arthritic nodules become infected or painful, surgery may be done to remove the nodule. Most people who develop arthritic nodules have severe arthritis. Almost all sufferers of these nodules also have positive tests for rheumatoid factor. There are a number of studies showing that rheumatoid arthritis is more aggressive when linked with a positive rheumatoid factor result. Smoking cigarettes is also a risk factor for developing arthritic nodules.
Many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and develop nodules do not have pain or symptoms associated with them, explains WebMD. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of adults who have rheumatoid arthritis develop arthritic nodules. Some of these nodules move, while others stay connected to fascia or tendons under the skin. Nodules on the hands, knuckles, elbow and fingers are the most common, but they may also appear on the vocal chords, heart, lungs or other organs.
Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Arthritis In Fingers
Also Check: Side Effects Of Arthritis Medication
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.
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?
Read Also: Arthritis Symptoms Arms And Hands
How To Treat Osteoarthritis
The goals in treating osteoarthritis are to relieve pain and restore function. Brief rest either by changing activities or wearing a splint can help. Soft, snug sleeves can help support a joint when rigid splints are too restrictive. Heat can soothe the joints and help keep them mobile. It is important to keep as much finger motion and function as possible. Hand therapists can teach joint protection exercises and activity modification to help protect joints. Anti-inflammatory medication or a steroid injection into the joint can decrease pain, but neither cures osteoarthritis.
Surgery is considered when the non-surgical options above have not helped. In most cases, you will tell your doctor when you are ready for surgery. The goal is to restore as much function as possible and to minimize your pain. One type of surgery is joint fusion. The worn cartilage is removed and the bones on each side of the joint are fused together, which means that the joint will not move but it will not hurt. Another choice is joint reconstruction, where the rough joint surface is removed and either replaced with your own soft tissue or with an implant. The type of surgery depends on the joint involved, your anatomy, and your activities. Your hand surgeon can help you decide which type of surgery is the best for you.
This content is written, edited and updated by hand surgeon members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.Find a hand surgeon near you.
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 they’re OK to try.
Recommended Reading: Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis In Your 30s
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.
Symptoms Of Arthritis In Hands And Fingers
While not everyone with arthritis in the joints in hands will experience all of these symptoms and some people may not even have anysymptoms at all, below are some common symptoms for hand arthritis:
- Joint pain. This is initially experienced as a dull, burning sensation after a particularly busy day. As arthritisadvances, the pain becomes sharper and more constant, even occurring at rest.
- Joint stiffness. This is common in the morning but also occurs after a long day of work or activity involving the hands
- Crepitus. This is a grinding, grating feeling or a crunchy sound in the hands or wrists on movement.
- Weakness. It can begin to get difficult to grasp an object or maintain a strong grip or pinch.
- Warmth or redness. It is common to feel warmth or redness where the joint, ligaments or tissues have become inflamed.
- Swelling. Swollen joints in fingers, hands and thumbs are very common and can lead to a puffier appearance.
- Loss of movement. Particularly as arthritis progresses, you may notice loss of movement in the affected joints.
- Joint shape. You may notice changes in joint shape, or a slight turn in the direction of a finger or thumb.This is usually caused by uneven wearing of cartilage or weakness surrounding tissues or ligaments.
- Knobbly or crooked fingers. Bone spurs can give a knobbly or crooked appearance to fingers and thumbs, and in some casescan also reduce the function of fingers or thumbs.
Dont Miss: Arthritis Pain In Hands Relief
Also Check: Ra Hand Pain
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 diseases 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.
Also Check: Arthritis Feels Like
How Long Do Silicone Arthroplasties Last
Silicone joint arthroplasty has a high failure rate one study found a 50% failure rate at ten years. Unfortunately, we have not developed any better implants than the silicone version developed in the 1960s by Dr. Swanson. These implants are just spacers and rely on the patients body to form scar tissue to stabilize the joint. However, revision surgery for a broken implant is generally well tolerated and offers excellent results.
Don’t Miss: How To Avoid Arthritis In Hands
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
What Can I Do To Avoid Arthritis Aches And Pains
When living with arthritis, it is important to understand that if you dont want to feel the pain youve always experienced, you will have to learn new ways to move around.
It is not always easy to know what movements or actions bring on your painful twinges though sometimes just standing up too quickly can cause arthritis in your knee joints to tense and twist in an unexpected way. This is why learning new ways to move is helpful it can aid you with avoiding these unwelcome symptoms.
Your physiotherapist can teach you which motions lead to discomfort, and show you how to avoid them and further protect your joints. These joint protection techniques can be as simple as carrying a purse with a particular kind of strap to take pressure off your wrists.
Another example is getting out of your car or into the shower in a different way. Your physiotherapist will make sure you have a solid understanding of what is and is not OK to do at home as far as keeping your joints unaffected.
Physiotherapists dont just focus on the big stuff though! If you have arthritic fingers, your physiotherapist can show you how to carry objects with your palms instead of grasping them with your fingers.
Physiotherapy can also give you access to new gadgets and technology that make daily tasks much less challenging for you as well.
Dont Miss: Does Arthritis Cause Swelling
You May Like: What Are The Symptoms For Arthritis
An Example Day Of Anti
Are you feeling inspired to anti-inflammatory diet?
We asked our nutritionists to share ideas on how to build the principles of a Mediterranean diet into a day of eating.
- Breakfast: Baked eggs and avocado with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper
- Lunch: A hearty vegetable soup, with a small side salad drizzled in olive oil
- Dinner: Salmon en papillote with asparagus, tenderstem broccoli and green beans with a chilli, garlic and ginger sauce. Or a mediterranean style vegetable and bean stew with wholegrain rice stuffed peppers
- Snacks: Hummus and vegetable sticks, 25g of nuts or a handful of olives
- Drinks: Water, green tea, herbal teas
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.