Many Reasons Same Result
Swelling â what your doctor may call edema â can be short-lived or long-term. Sometimes tiny blood vessels in your hands leak fluid. This could build up and cause swelling. It can happen during pregnancy or after an injury. Some medicines can lead to swelling. Regardless of why itâs happening, you want to be able to use your hands and get things done.
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
Osteoarthritis Of The Hands
Get more information about the causes, symptoms and treatments of hand OA, which is very common and can be debilitating.
About half of all women and one-quarter of all men will experience the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis of the hands by the time they are 85 years old. A degenerative disease that affects all the tissues of a joint, OA leads to the breakdown over time of the smooth, protective cartilage on the ends of bones, so bones rub together, causing pain. The 29 bones of your hands and wrists come together to form many small joints that can be affected by OA.
Breath In Fragrant Spices
Pleasant aromas like lavender can alter the perception of pain, studies show. Japanese researchers found that lavender reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can make you feel relaxed and less aware of pain. But lavender isnt the only pleasant aroma that works as a natural home remedy for arthritis pain relief. Korean researchers found that arthritis patients experienced less pain and were less depressed when they were exposed to the aromas of a variety of kitchen spices, including marjoram, rosemary, and peppermint. For a pain-soothing aromatherapy treatment, add a teaspoon of one of these dried herbs to a quarter-cup of olive, coconut, or vegetable oil. Take a whiff periodically. Dont miss these other soothing essential oils for arthritis pain relief.
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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.
What Are Arthritis Symptoms
Many people with arthritis feel pain and discomfort in the joints, ankles, back, fingers, hands, muscles, neck, or wrists. Many types of arthritis can affect different parts of the body, and the pain can vary from a constant sharp pain, or it can be intermittent. The most common symptoms include pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, and stiffness.
Recommended Reading: How To Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis In Hands
Finger And Wrist Arthritis Risk Factors
Certain risk factors can increase your chances of developing finger and wrist arthritis. The most common include:
- AgeOsteoarthritis is most common in people over the age of 50.
- GenderWomen are more likely than men to develop finger and wrist arthritis.
- GeneticsA family history of osteoarthritis puts you at greater risk of developing the condition.
- OveruseStrenuous or prolonged stress on the fingers and wrists can lead to arthritis.
- Past injuriesFinger or wrist fractures, sprains or strains can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Weight Management And Diet
Although the link between your weight and osteoarthritis of the hands may be less clear than for weight-bearing joints such as the knees, some research shows that being overweight increases inflammation and therefore pain. Therefore, if you have osteoarthritis of the hand or wrist, it still makes sense to try to maintain, or achieve, a healthy weight.
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What Does Arthritis In Your Hands Feel Like
Early symptoms of arthritis of the hand include joint pain that may feel dull, or a burning sensation. The pain often occurs after periods of increased joint use, such as heavy gripping or grasping. The pain may not be present immediately, but may show up hours later or even the following day.
Are eggs good for osteoarthritis? If you have arthritis and no known intolerance to eggs, theres no need to avoid eating them regularly as a part of a well-balanced diet. Theyre nutrient-dense and may help you manage your weight and reduce your risk of heart and eye diseases.
Is coffee good for arthritis?
Coffee could potentially benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis because of the anti-inflammatory properties of coffee. 4 Reducing inflammation in the body could help ease joint pain. Also, caffeines stimulating effects help fight physical and mental fatigue that is common with rheumatoid arthritis.
Is peanut butter inflammatory?
The short answer is no, and in fact, peanuts and some peanut products like peanut butter have been shown to be anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the body is a mechanism thought to be at the center of the majority of chronic diseases.
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.
See Topical Pain Relief for Arthritis
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Adaptive Devices And Rest
Exercise #: Finger Bends
Start in the same position as in the last exercise, with your left hand held up straight. Bend your thumb down toward your palm. Hold it for a couple of seconds. Straighten your thumb back up. Then bend your index finger down toward your palm. Hold it for a couple of seconds. Then straighten it. Repeat with each finger on the left hand. Then repeat the entire sequence on the right hand.
Part 5 of 9: Thumb Bend
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Exercise For Your Thumbs
Your doctor or a physical therapist may recommend hand exercises. You can do these exercises to improve range of motion and improve your arthritis symptoms.
Simple exercises can include a thumb stretch, in which you attempt to touch the tip of your thumb to just under your pinky finger.
Another stretch, called IP, uses flexion. It requires you to hold your thumb stable with your other hand and attempt to bend just the upper part of the thumb. And an additional exercise is to simply touch the tips of each of your fingers to the tip of your thumb.
You should only do these exercises after consulting with your doctor or physical therapist. And be sure to get instructions to make sure youre doing the movements correctly.
How Are Wrists And Hands Affected By Arthritis
Any joint in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists can be affected by arthritis. Many different types of arthritis can affect your hands and cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness. People with hand arthritis often find their grip weakens and it becomes harder to do fine movements, such as turning a key or tying shoelaces.
Find out about aids and equipment that can make everyday tasks easier. Learn ways to protect your hands and manage your symptoms.
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Reducing The Strain On Your Hands And Wrists
We use our hands a lot in daily life. If you have osteoarthritis in your hands or wrists, taking some time to think about how you use them, and how you could reduce the strain on them, can bring great benefits. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your hands, just that you should think about ways of using them differently.
It may be helpful to see an occupational therapist or hand therapist, who will be able to offer a lot of useful advice on this. But many people discover for themselves different ways of doing things that help to ease the strain on their joints. Examples include:
- using gadgets such as electric tin openers or tools with softer, chunkier handles that don’t need such a tight grip
- using a backpack or shopping trolley to avoid carrying heavy bags in your hands
- taking more frequent breaks from tasks that put more strain on your joints or switching between harder and easier jobs
- using both hands for some of the tasks that you normally do one-handed
- having taps or door handles changed for those that are easier to use
- looking out for easy-to-handle fastenings when choosing clothing or shoes.
Find out more about looking after your joints.
Make A Ginger Poultice
Applying crushed ginger to a painful join works along the same lines as capsaicinelements in the plant can deplete the bodys stores of substance P, a brain chemical that carries pain messages to your central nervous system. One study of 56 people found that ginger eased symptoms in 55 percent of people with osteoarthritis and 74 percent of those with RA. To treat yourself, peel and finely mince a 3-inch piece of fresh ginger. Mix it with just enough olive oil to form a paste, then apply it to the painful joint. Depending on where the pain is, you may need to wrap the paste in place with a gauze or a length of ace bandage. Leave in place for 10-15 minutes to allow the ginger to penetrate.
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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.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Nhs On Common Signs And Symptoms
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One such condition that could be confused for arthritis is carpal tunnel syndrome. According to Versus Arthritis it is among several health issues that affect the hands and wrists. The charity explains: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that happens when the median nerve is compressed or squeezed as it passes through the wrist.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Although it is not always necessary to contact a doctor during an osteoarthritis flare-up, symptoms that persist for more than a few days may need medical treatment.
The doctor may request imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, to check for changes to joints and other damage. They will likely recommend medications to treat pain.
If necessary, the doctor may suggest additional treatments to address triggers, such as CBT for stress.
Osteoarthritis flare-ups are not always preventable, but some strategies can help minimize risk.
For example, people with osteoarthritis may find the following tips helpful:
- Maintain a moderate weight by making healthy dietary choices and getting plenty of exercise.
- Reduce stress through meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing exercises.
- Take measures to get enough sleep.
- Engage in regular exercise to strengthen the bones, lubricate the joints, and increase muscle mass.
- Wear supportive braces to help protect and stabilize the joints.
- Use assistive devices to reduce stress on the joints.
Some foods and beverages that may help prevent inflammation include:
- fresh fruits and vegetables, as they are good sources of antioxidants
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Finger Abduction With Rubber Band
This exercise helps improve the mobility of your fingers and strengthen your dorsal interossei.
To perform this exercise:
- Bring your thumb and the other four fingers together to touch, then place a rubber band around all of them.
- Push your fingers out against the rubber band to extend your fingers and stretch the rubber band.
- Maintain the tension on the rubber band stretched out for three to five seconds. Then relax.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions.
This exercise helps improve the mobility and coordination of your fingers.
To perform this exercise:
- Start with your palm and fingers flat on a surface.
- Isolate just your index finger and lift your index finger up off the surface while maintaining your palm and the rest of your fingers flat.
- Bring your index finger back down to the surface, then isolate and lift your middle finger from the surface.
- Relax your middle finger, then move on to your ring finger and pinky finger, lifting each finger one at a time, before moving on to the next.
- Repeat the process across all fingers of your hands for a total of 10 repetitions for each finger.
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Finger And Wrist Arthritis
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Finger and wrist arthritis affect every aspect of your life, from your ability to do your job to the time you spend on hobbies. At TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, our goal is to get you back to doing the activities you love. We take the time to get to know our patients so that we can provide unique care plans that are customized to your needs.
Tips To Ease Joint Pain
Arthritis joint pain and symptoms can make simple activities difficult. This head-to-toe guide can help.
Arthritis pain in even one joint can take a toll on your entire body. For example, a painful neck can prevent you from turning your head properly, placing stress on your shoulders. A painful knee may cause you to walk in a way that affects your hips, back and feet. And holding a joint still to protect it can make moving it more difficult and in some cases almost impossible over time.
If joint pain is caused by an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic treatment is needed to stop inflammation that can lead to joint damage or destruction. For flares of pain, persistent pain or pain due to other causes, there are many things you can do on your own or ask your doctor or physical therapist about to get relief.
Solutions vary and may include splints, therapeutic exercises or more informal daily modifications at home and beyond. Here are a few suggestions to help ease joint pain head-to-toe:
Neck pain can make it difficult to look up or turn your head sideways. If you avoid twisting your neck by moving your shoulders or entire body, the surrounding muscles may hurt as much as the joints themselves.
The mandible joint can be a frequent source of discomfort, making it painful to bite into a thick sandwich or an apple. Jaw pain is common on the side of the face or just in front of the ear.
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Make A Few Wardrobe Changes
Minor changes to your wardrobe can reduce strain on your hands, helping to ease your overall pain and stiffness. For example, try wearing:
- Shoes that slip on or use Velcro rather than shoelaces
- Shirts that pull over the head rather than button up
- Pants that have elastic waistbands rather than snaps and zippers
Other lifestyle changes can also be helpful. For example, when cooking, use a jar opener, lightweight pots and pans, and kitchen utensils with large handles. An occupational therapist can give you additional ideas on how to reduce strain on hand joints.