What Does Arthritis Feel Like
Arthritis feels like pain in the joints, but theres a lot more to it than just that. In addition to the early signs of arthritis described above, individuals who are in the early stages of developing arthritis may experience general weakness,7 difficulty sleeping,10 loss of appetite,6 and weight loss. It is also common to have dry mouth, dry eyes, eye discharge, or chest pain early-on.
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 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 .
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Hand Joints Are Most Affected By Osteoarthritis
The hand has 27 joints.6 Each finger has 4 joints3 knuckles and 1 joint that connects its long bone in the hand to the wrist. The thumb has 3 joints and the wrist contains 8 joints.
While any joint in the hand can develop osteoarthritis, the joints most often affected include:
- The proximal interphalangeal joints, or middle knuckles of the fingers
- The distal interphalangeal joints, or the end-most joint of the fingers and thumb
The metacarpophalangeal joints, the largest knuckles of the hand, are less likely to be affected by osteoarthritis.
Why You Have Arthritis
There are over 100 different types ofarthritis that can develop as you get older or following an injury. The many types of arthritis target your joints, causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness and limiting your joints flexibility.
The two most common types of arthritis that affect many adults in the United States include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
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What Do Doctors Do
It’s not always easy for doctors to diagnose JIA right away. JIA itself can have lots of different symptoms, and some infections, like Lyme disease, have similar symptoms to JIA. So doctors will want to rule out any other possibilities before deciding something is JIA.
If a doctor suspects a patient has JIA, he or she will ask about the person’s symptoms, find out if others in the family have had arthritis, and do a complete physical examination to look for joint swelling, eye problems, and rashes. A doctor may do blood tests and X-rays. In some cases, doctors may use a needle to take a sample of synovial fluid from a person’s joint.
Sometimes, a doctor might need to see a patient for several months to determine the particular type of JIA the person has.
Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Hand
Stiffness, swelling, and pain are symptoms common to all forms of arthritis in the hand. With osteoarthritis, bony nodules may develop at the middle, or PIP, joint of the finger , and at the end-joints, or DIP, of the finger . A deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb is typical of osteoarthritis of the basilar joint. Swelling and a bump at the base of the thumb where it joins the wrist may also be observed. Grip and pinch strength may be diminished, causing difficulty with activities such as opening jars or turning keys. Pain, swelling, stiffness, and diminished strength are also seen with osteoarthritis of the wrist.
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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.
Initial Ra Signs: What Are The First Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
You just hit your early 30s. You notice that it is harder to get up every morning than it was even five years ago. Theres a general feeling of stiffness over your entire body that you can never quite escape. You initially wrote it off as just an unfortunate part of the aging process , but now youre starting to think there may be something more serious going on.
Youve also started losing weight, but not because you are dieting nor exercising. You originally thought it was because of you have no appetite or real interest in food, but even when you DO eat it seems to have no effect on your weight. All of this has contributed to a sense of depression something that youve never had to deal with previously. Unfortunately, there IS something serious going on. These are just a few of the major early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis .
RA is a long-term autoimmune disorder that typically affects a persons joints. What usually begins as a warm feeling or swollen hands can quickly turn into pain that just wont go away. Internally, the disease can also manifest itself as a low red blood cell count, inflammation of the lungs or even inflammation of the heart.
A crucial part of seeking appropriate medical treatment as quickly as possible involves knowing what to look for and what to be concerned about. Most importantly, it is essential to know when things are getting serious.
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What Is Hand Arthritis
Arthritis refers to a medical condition that involves inflammation of one or more joints in the body. Arthritis may cause joint destruction and necessitate joint replacement if the disability is severe enough.
A joint is the area where two bones meet. Within joints is a tissue called cartilage that acts as a cushion between two bony surfaces. Synovial fluid within joints protects them and helps facilitate movement. Synovial fluid is secreted by the inner lining of the joint called the synovial membrane. Hand arthritis occurs when there is inflammation in one or more joints of the hand and wrist. There are over 100 types of arthritis. A few of the common types of arthritis that affect the hands are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis , psoriatic arthritis and gout. The two most common types of arthritis that affect the hands are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Hand osteoarthritis occurs when there is wear and tear of one or more joints of the hand as seen with increasing age. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the bodys immune system attacks the joints of the hand.
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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Treatment For Osteoarthritis Of The Hand
Treatment is designed to relieve pain and restore function. Anti-inflammatory or other analgesic medication may be of benefit in relieving pain. Brief periods of rest may help if the arthritis has flared up. You may also be advised to wear finger or wrist splints at night and for selected activities. Often soft sleeves may be of some benefit when the rigid splints are too restrictive, especially when the arthritis is affecting the joint at the base of your thumb. Heat modalities in the form of warm wax or paraffin baths might help, and when severe swelling is present, cold modalities may be of help. It is important to maintain motion in the fingers and use the hand as productively as possible. Hand therapy is often helpful with these exercises, splints, and modalities. A cortisone injection can often provide relief of symptoms, but does not cure the arthritis. Surgery is usually not advised unless these more conservative treatments fail.
How Hand Osteoarthritis Develops
Where bones meet to form a joint, their surfaces are covered with smooth, slippery cartilage. This cartilage provides a cushion between the small bones of the hand, protecting them from rubbing directly against each other. When this cartilage deteriorates, it is called osteoarthritis.
Exactly what causes cartilage to deteriorate is not clear to researchers,1 and may vary from person to person. The hands do not bear weight but its joints undergo stress on a daily basis, such as when carrying objects or gripping items. Aging and genetics also play roles.
As cartilage deteriorates, other changes in the hand also occur:
- Friction between bones can lead to the development of bone spurs .
- The bone underneath damaged or missing cartilage may develop cysts and areas of abnormal swelling called bone marrow lesions.
- The delicate membrane that encapsulates each small finger joint can become inflamed.
- The area where tendons insert into bone, called entheses, can also undergo inflammatory changes.
While bone spurs tend to be permanent, the other changes may get better or worse. They can lead to permanent damage or go away altogether.
Read more about Osteoarthritis Causes
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Symptoms By Body Part
The most commonly affected areas during the onset of RA are the small joints in your hands and feet. This is where you may first feel stiffness and an ache.
Its also possible for RA inflammation to affect your knees and hips. Because the disease presents differently in different people, it can go on to affect almost any joint.
Your organs are another area that can be disrupted by RA inflammation:
- Your heart muscle can become damaged.
- Your lungs can become scarred.
- Blood vessel damage can lead to subsequent skin and nerve issues.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Hand Arthritis
Diagnosis of hand arthritis by a doctor may involve:
- Detailed medical history: The doctor may ask questions about the patients symptoms including their onset and severity, any underlying health conditions, any history of injury or surgery and family history of any related health conditions. The doctor may also ask the patient if they are on any medications or supplements.
- Physical examination: A thorough physical examination will be done to look for
- Signs of arthritis in any other part of the body
- Weakness of the affected joint and muscles
- Any signs of injuries or trauma
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When Hand Arthritis Is Serious
Hand arthritis can be a serious cause for concern if it prevents a person from being able to care for themselves, particularly if they live alone. Hand arthritis can also be serious if it leads to severe carpal tunnel syndrome. Advanced carpal tunnel causes numbness and/or tingling and weakness in the thumb and associated fingers, and can result in permanent nerve damage if left untreated. In either of these cases, consultation with a medical professional is advised.
Read more: Is My Hand and Wrist Pain Caused by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Something Else? on Sports-health.com
Most People With Arthritis Are Under 65 Years Old
One of the reasons people assume arthritis is an inevitable consequence of aging is that the risk of developing the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, increases with age. The risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition often confused with osteoarthritis, also increases with age. Yet, as the CDC points out, the majority of people with arthritis are under 65 years old.
Of people 18 to 44 years old, 7.1% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the CDC. Of people who are age 4564, 29.3% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In the 65 or older age group, 49.6% report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. While the risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age, keep in mind that it is not the only contributing factor.
- Osteoarthritis onset usually occurs after the age of 40.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune inflammatory type of arthritis, can develop at any age.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus usually develops between infancy and old age, with a peak occurrence between 15 to 40 years of age.
- Fibromyalgia is typically diagnosed in middle age and prevalence increases with age.
- Childhood arthritis occurs in people up to 16 years of age.
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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?
When To Seek Treatment For Signs Of Arthritis
If unexplained joint pain persists or worsens, it is time seek the experience of a trained medical professional. It is common to begin the treatment process by making an appointment with a primary care physician, who may refer the patient to an arthritis specialist, called a rheumatologist.
A physician may recommend using arthritis pain relief creams, such as JointFlex, oral medications, joint injections, or perhaps weight reduction based upon the early warning signs of arthritis. However, its important to remember that a prompt diagnosis can help preserve joint function and mobility for many years to come.
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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.