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 .
Loss Of Joint Function
Because rheumatoid arthritis leads to pain, swelling, and tenderness of the involved joints, there is the loss of joint function. The swelling and sensitivity impede the full motion and stability of the joint and it becomes incapable of carrying the movement with confidence, balance, and completeness.
- This loss of joint function leads to limping, lack of coordination, loss of grip and dexterity, and disability.
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.
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What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis
The exact cause of RA is not known. RA is an autoimmune disorder. This means the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. This causes inflammation in and around the joints. This may damage the skeletal system. RA can also damage other organs, such as the heart and lungs. Researchers think certain factors, including heredity, may be a factor.
RA most often occurs in people from ages 30 to 50, but it can occur at any age. It happens more in women than in men.
Hand Pain Is Worse With Activity
This type of hand pain tends to occur in osteoarthritis , a degenerative disorder where the cartilage that cushions the end of a joint breaks down over time. Joint symptoms of OA are more likely to be exacerbated by repetitive or overuse and effort, explains Dr. Lally for example, gardening or crafting.
In RA, on the other hand, pain and stiffness tend to come with lack of use and after periods of inactivity, such as when you wake up in the morning after being still all night.
Another way to distinguish the two: swelling in your hand and wrist is hard and bony in OA boggy and squishy in RA, says Dr. Albayda.
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Determine If The Pain Is Ra
Common characteristics to look out for when trying to identify rheumatoid arthritis pain symptoms:
1. Pains associated with RA are usually chronic, or long-lasting.
2. RA pain is usually symmetrical, meaning that it equally affects both sides of a persons body.
3. Pain occurring near joints and severe pain after strenuous activity are strong signs of RA.
4. RA pain is usually experienced simultaneously at several locations throughout the body.
5. Severe swelling can often occur in areas that are affected by RA.
If your pain matches the characteristics of at least three of the items listed above, you should make an appointment with a doctor.
What Are Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Common complications of rheumatoid arthritis include the following:
Overall, the rate of premature death is higher in people with rheumatoid arthritis than in the general population. The most common causes of premature death in people with rheumatoid arthritis are infection, vasculitis, and poor nutrition. Fortunately, the manifestations of severe, long-standing disease, such as nodules, vasculitis, and deforming are becoming less common with optimal treatments.
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Signs Of Arthritis In The Hand Causes & Treatment
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that often develops with age. It is a chronic condition in which the cartilage between the bones that cushions the joints wears down, and as it does, the bones rub against each other causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced joint motion. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hands, knees, hips, feet, and spine, though it can affect almost any joint in the body.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by persistent joint pain, swelling, and stiffness that affect both sides of the body. It can also affect the skin, heart, lungs, and eyes.
In osteoarthritis, symptoms are usually worse in the patients dominant hand, while in rheumatoid arthritis, both hands are usually affected.
The first signs of arthritis in the hands may include:
- Pain in the hands
Early Signs Of Arthritis In Hands
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.
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What Are The Less Common Forms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can begin in less common forms. For example, it can begin with the involvement of only a single joint or a few joints. Sometimes, this can later evolve to the more common presentation of many joints on both sides of the body.
- Rarely, the earliest symptom of rheumatoid disease is inflammation of a body area that does not even involve a joint. For example, the lining of the lungs can become inflamed to cause pleurisy many months before arthritis develops.
- Occasionally, only a few joints are involved and the doctor may suspect another type of inflammatory arthritis. Again, this can sometimes only later evolve to become the more typical symmetrical polyarthritis by including many joints on both sides of the body.
- The caveat is that by recognizing the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis rheumatologists and their patients can address the disease early, thereby affording optimal outcomes for those affected.
Tests Used To Help Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are various tests that will be conducted including a blood test to determine if you test positive for Rheumatoid Factor.
Rheumatoid factors are a variety of antibodies that are present in 70% to 90% of people with RA.
However, rheumatoid factors can be found in people without RA or with other autoimmune disorders.
Other tests, including X-rays, MRI, ultrasound, and other scans, may be ordered.
These tests are used to help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
- Blood Test: the blood test will not provide a definitive answer if you have RA, but it will allow doctors to review:
- rheumatoid factor check for rheumatoid factor antibodies that collect in the synovium of the joint. These antibodies are present in about 80% of RA patients
- erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein A high erythrocyte sedimentation rate may indicate inflammation in the jointsas do high levels of C-reactive protein
- complete blood count. This includes hemoglobin and hematocrit tests, which may reveal anemia, an indicator of RA.
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How Can I Ease Hand And Finger Joint Pain
Regular exercise is very important to make your hands and fingers more flexible. You also need to rest painful joints. It helps to use hand or finger splints to ease pressure if your RA flares up.
To exercise your hands and fingers, you can use a soft foam ball like a Nerf ball . Squeeze it and then relax your hand muscles.
Ask an occupational therapist about gadgets and devices that may help make everyday activities easier, at home or on the job. For instance:
- Use hook and loop fasteners to replace buttons on clothing.
- Add accessories to doorknobs for easier turning.
- Use lamp switches that require just a touch to the lamp base rather than twisting a small knob switch.
- Try a long-handled shoehorn to put on your shoes so you donât have to bend over and stretch your hands.
- Use lightweight household utensils, pots, pans, cups, and dishes.
- Put foam padding around your pen or pencil. These are available at most office supply stores.
Learn about more hand and finger exercises you can do for RA
How Ra Hand Pain Is Diagnosed
Theres no one test to diagnose RA and in its early stages, signs and symptoms can mimic those of many other diseases.
But early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is important for the best outcome. We are learning that we need to control inflammation much more aggressively upfront as joint damage can ensue early on, says Dr. Albayda. Hence, there has been a shift in treatment paradigms to catching patients early and instituting treat-to-target control.
To help determine whether you have RA in your hand or wrist, a health care provider will examine your hands and fingers for such symptoms as:
- Joint instability
They will also ask questions about other symptoms that tend to go along with RA, such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, fever, and disrupted sleep.
A health care provider may order imaging tests to check for certain characteristics of RA, such as narrowing of the joint space or erosions of the bone. They will run blood tests to look for antibodies that may be found in people with RA as well as elevated levels of markers of inflammation in the blood.
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What To Do For Arthritis In Hands
To treat the disease, there will be some methods used by a medical professional based on the patients needs.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctors will suggest you take certain medications, exercise and take a rest, physical therapy, splints, and special arthritis aids, avoiding to consume certain foods that trigger the disease and managing stress.
One Types Of Arthritis In Hands
Rheumatoid arthritis is included in one of inflammatory arthritis types. The disease is mainly identified by joint inflammation in relatively chronic condition occurs in some part of the human body including knees, fingers, joints, and hands.
Rheumatoid arthritis is feared by most people since it can result in systemic illness that affects many organs of the human body.
However, there is no exact factor of symptoms of arthritis in hands found by scientists that becomes the cause of the disease till now.
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How Doctors Diagnose Arthritis Hand Pain
To determine whats behind your hand pain, your doctor will rely on your medical history, a physical exam, and imaging and blood tests to make a diagnosis and determine what kind of arthritis hand pain you have.
Feeling a patients joints during the exam can help differentiate between OA and inflammatory arthritis, Dr. Byram says. The swelling feels harder in those with OA because extra bone at the joints, called osteophytes, forms over time. The swelling in RA and other inflammatory disease feels softer.
Imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, can reveal joint erosion and osteophytes and loss of cartilage .
If your doctor suspects inflammatory arthritis, they will also order blood tests to detect the presence of certain antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP, that help identify RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis.
When To See A Doctor
If you have early signs of rheumatoid arthritis, see their healthcare professional as soon as possible. A doctor can diagnose the condition and recommend treatments. If necessary your primary care doctor can refer you to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis, called a rheumatologist.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage RA and slow its progression, which may reduce or delay some of the complications. The condition will need to be managed for the rest of your life,
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Numbness In The Hands
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of the connective tissues in your hands or feet, leading to painful sensations of tingling or numbness. Though this swelling can occur in any part of the body, its more common around the wrists. When tissues in the hands are being compressed, its referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome.
How Can Dr Knight Help You With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Over the years, Dr. Knight has seen in many patients the painful effects of Rheumatoid arthritis, and understands how important it is for you to be relieved of that pain. Through careful study of your case, Dr. Knight will determine which solution is the best option for you, with the ultimate goal of restoring your hands to as much use as medically possible, so that you can get back to your life and work.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Ra
Researchers have studied a number of genetic and environmental factors to determine if they change persons risk of developing RA.
Characteristics that increase risk
- Age. RA can begin at any age, but the likelihood increases with age. The onset of RA is highest among adults in their sixties.
- Sex. New cases of RA are typically two-to-three times higher in women than men.
- Genetics/inherited traits. People born with specific genes are more likely to develop RA. These genes, called HLA class II genotypes, can also make your arthritis worse. The risk of RA may be highest when people with these genes are exposed to environmental factors like smoking or when a person is obese.
- Smoking. Multiple studies show that cigarette smoking increases a persons risk of developing RA and can make the disease worse.
- History of live births. Women who have never given birth may be at greater risk of developing RA.
- Early Life Exposures. Some early life exposures may increase risk of developing RA in adulthood. For example, one study found that children whose mothers smoked had double the risk of developing RA as adults. Children of lower income parents are at increased risk of developing RA as adults.
- Obesity. Being obese can increase the risk of developing RA. Studies examining the role of obesity also found that the more overweight a person was, the higher his or her risk of developing RA became.
Characteristics that can decrease risk
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Managed
Most people with RA can lead full and active lives. Taking control of RA will help you cope with its impact on your lifestyle. As there is no known cure, early diagnosis and treatment can control its symptoms and help prevent disability.
People with RA are usually looked after by several health professionals. This might include a general practitioner, a rheumatologist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist.
Treatment will be tailored to your symptoms. Options include:
- medicines to relieve symptoms or slow progress of the condition
- heat and cold treatments, such as warm baths, and hot or cold packs
- TENS electrical device, which is thought to reduce pain by stimulating the nerves
- surgery to correct joint problems
- supportive treatments such as physiotherapy
- exercise to keep your joints flexible and muscles strong
- complementary therapies such as relaxation techniques, massage, hypnosis or acupuncture
It is possible to use more than 1 of these approaches at the same time . The experience of pain is also unique to everybody, so what works for you may not work for someone else.