Physiotherapy For Finger Arthritis
Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that has been proven to reduce arthritis pain.
The goal of physiotherapy for finger arthritis is to prevent the progression of the disease, reduce pain, regain strength, and increase joint mobility, function, and quality of life.
Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for finger arthritis can include:
- Stretching, strengthening, and range of motion exercises
- Activity modification and functional retraining
- Using assistive devices such as jar openers, key turners, and large zipper pulls using larger pens using kitchen utensils and tools with larger handles
- Replacing door knobs with levers that you push down on, not turn
- Using an ergonomic keyboard and mouse
- Wearing a splint or compression glove for support while sleeping or while doing repetitive motions during the day
Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure for RA. But it is important to help keep your joints working well by reducing pain and inflammation. Work on a treatment plan with your healthcare provider that includes medicine and physical therapy. Work on lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes include:
- Activity and rest. To reduce stress on your joints, switch between activity and rest. This can help protect your joints and lessen your symptoms.
- Using assistive devices. Canes, crutches, and walkers can help to keep stress off certain joints and to improve balance.
- Using adaptive equipment. Reachers and grabbers let you extend your reach and reduce straining. Dressing aids help you get dressed more easily.
- Managing the use of medicines. Medicines for this condition have some risks. Work with your healthcare provider to create a plan to reduce this risk.
- Seeking support. Find a support group that can help you deal with the effects of RA.
Which Joints In The Hand Are Affected
The index and middle fingers and the thumb are the parts of the hand most commonly affected. Many people find that the hand they use most is affected more than the other.
When the fingers are affected, it may be in the joints closest to the fingernails or the ones in the middle of the fingers. It’s less common to have osteoarthritis in the large knuckle joints, where the fingers meet the hand.
The joint at the base of the thumb can also be affected by osteoarthritis. And occasionally the wrist joint may be affected.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Finger Arthritis
The most common symptom of finger arthritis is pain at the tip of the finger or tips of multiple fingers. Most often, the pain develops slowly over time, but it can appear suddenly.
Other signs and symptoms of finger arthritis include:
- Tenderness in the tips of the fingers
- Swelling, redness, or warmth at the tips of the fingers
- Stiffness and difficulty moving the fingers, especially first thing in the morning or after periods of inactivity
- A crunching, clicking, or snapping sound when making a fist or grasping something
- Weakness in the fingers and difficulty gripping
- Bumps and lumps at the tips of your fingers , called Heberdens nodes, or at the middle of your fingers called Bouchards nodes
- Cysts at the tips of the fingers that could cause dents or ridging in the nail of the affected finger
Concerned about symptoms of finger arthritis? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.
- Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Topical medications such as creams, sprays, gels or patches
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , though these drugs can have serious side effects
- Corticosteroid injections, though these cannot be continued for a long period of time
Changes In Surrounding Joints
In patients with advanced thumb base arthritis, the neighboring joints may become more mobile than normal.
Thumb extension deformity. This patient has lost mobility at the base of the thumb due to arthritis. The next joint closer to the tip of the thumb has become more mobile than normal to make up for the arthritic joint. Normally, the thumb does not come to a right angle with the rest of the hand.
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Early Signs Of Arthritis
People may suspect they have arthritis in their hands if their joints feel stiff in the mornings. Some individuals may also notice stiffness in the evenings or at other times of day. The joints may ache or be swollen, making it difficult to open bottles or perform tasks involving complex movements.
The skin on the patient’s hands may be red at certain points. These areas are the points in which the joints are inflamed and patients may want to avoid touching these points too much due to it might cause pain. Initially only one joint may be affected. As time goes by, a person can start to feel pain in other joints as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Hands
Rheumatoid arthritis often starts in smaller joints such as in the hand or wrist. One of the early signs of RA in the hands is aninability to form a complete fist.
It usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern, affecting both hands including the knuckle joints, middle finger joints and wrists. People withlong-standing RA or those diagnosed later in life may notice a deviation of their fingers to the side, away from the thumb.
Surrounding tendons can also become inflamed, affecting the ability to straighten fingers. People with RA are also more susceptible todeveloping carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition caused by pressure on nerves that run through the wrist, with symptoms of numbness, pins andneedles, and pain.
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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.
Is It Arthritis In My Hand Or Tendonitis
Arthritis and tendonitis can mimic each other, so its important to understand the difference between the two. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons in your hand due to an injury or repetitive motion, and the pain can come and go suddenly or last for a few days.
Arthritis, however, is inflammation of the joint due to degenerative joint disease. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis , when the protective cartilage in the joint breaks down, and rheumatoid arthritis , when immune system attacks the joints. Early symptoms of arthritis include painful hand joints, burning sensation and decreased functionality of the hand and/or wrist.
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What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In My Hands And Fingers
Maybe it dawns on us when opening a jar becomes a challenge. Or when holding that tennis racquet doesnt feel like it used to. When stiff, swollen fingers make daily tasks difficult, arthritis may be the cause. The small joints of the fingers are the most arthritis-prone spot on your body. And while arthritis isnt the only cause of stiff fingers, its one of the big ones, especially in older adults.
Osteoarthritis Of The Knee
If you have osteoarthritis in your knees, both your knees will usually be affected over time, unless it occurred as the result of an injury or another condition affecting only 1 knee.
Your knees may be most painful when you walk, particularly when walking up or down hills or stairs.
Sometimes, your knees may “give way” beneath you or make it difficult to straighten your legs. You may also hear a soft, grating sound when you move the affected joint.
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Exercises To Relieve Arthritis
The following exercises increase blood flow to cartilage, bringing it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and prevent further breakdown. Consult your healthcare provider before starting these exercises to make sure theyre appropriate for you.
If so, the exercises are easy to do and can ease your arthritis pain:
The stronger your muscles are, the more weight they will be able to handle. Like other types of exercise, hand exercises won’t “work” overnight. But they should with time and repetition.
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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Malalignment Of One Or More Finger Joints
Over time, the destruction of bone and joint tissue may cause fingers and thumbs to become deformed. While the risk of hand deformities is significant, they are not inevitable.
A diagnosing physician will examine a patients hands, feet, and any other jointslarge or smallthat the patient reports as painful.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Fingers
The joints of the hands and fingers are more commonly affected in rheumatoid arthritis compared to other types of arthritis. Some of the earliest signs of arthritis are pain, swelling and stiffness. If these symptoms are experienced in the fingers, it is likely because of rheumatoid arthritis. The signs and symptoms of arthritis in the fingers include
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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.
What Is Arthritis Of The Hand
Arthritis is a disease that attacks the tissues of your joints. A joint is where two bones meet. Arthritis can attack the lining of your joint or the cartilage, the smooth covering at the ends of bones. Eventually the cartilage breaks down, the ends of your bones become exposed, rub against each other and wear away. You have many joints in your hand, therefore its a common site for arthritis to happen.
Arthritis of the hand causes pain and swelling, stiffness and deformity. As arthritis progresses, you cant use your hands to manage everyday tasks as you once could.
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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.
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.
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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.
What Is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and the hand and wrist joints are among the most commonly affected. A joint is a part of the body where two or more bones meet. The ends of the bones are covered in a smooth and slippery surface, known as cartilage. This allows the bones to move smoothly against each other and protects the joint from stress.
Everyone’s joints go through a cycle of damage and repair, and often the repair process is quite effective. But sometimes it can cause changes in the shape or structure of the joints.
Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in your joints to thin and the surfaces of the joint to become rougher, which means that the joints may not move as smoothly as they should, and they might feel painful and stiff.
You may have firm, knobbly swellings at the finger joints. These are known as Heberden’s nodes or Bouchard’s nodes depending on which joints are affected. They’re caused by the growth of bony spurs called osteophytes.
Osteoarthritis can affect anyone at any age, but it’s more common in women over the age of 50.
Some of the factors that can make you more likely to develop osteoarthritis in your hands include:
- being female
- carrying out repetitive tasks over a long period of time.
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