Should I Exercise My Hands
Dont be afraid to use your hands. Regular exercise is important in reducing stiffness and keeping your joints and muscles working. Try to make sure you move any affected joints in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists as far as is comfortable several times a day. You could also see an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for specific hand exercises.
What’s New In Arthritis Research
Progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research today that the media often report new findings before the medical journal with the information reaches your doctor’s office. As a result, you need to know how to evaluate reports on new arthritis research.
Arthritis researchers are looking at four broad areas of research. These include causes, treatments, education and prevention.
Researchers are learning more about certain conditions. For example in osteoarthritis, researchers are looking for signs of early destruction of cartilage and ways to rebuild it. For rheumatoid arthritis and other types that involve inflammation, researchers are trying to understand the steps that lead to inflammation and how it can be slowed or stopped. An initial study suggests that fibromyalgia affects more older people than originally thought and often may be overlooked in this group. Your doctor can tell you about other new research findings. If you would like to take part in arthritis research, ask your doctor for a referral to a study in your area.
Many people help make arthritis research possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.
Types Of Inflammatory Arthritis
In order to make an accurate diagnosis, rheumatologists rely on a persons history of his or her joint and other symptoms, a physical examination, blood tests and, where needed, imaging techniques. Imaging can include X-Rays, ultrasounds of joints or MRI exams if a better understanding of a patients disease is required. If damage is already seen in the joints, this indicates that the type of inflammatory arthritis that is present may be more aggressive with a higher risk for more damage. There are many types of inflammatory arthritis. However, the following conditions are the most common:
: the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, tends to involve the small joints in the hands and feet and most often more than one joint is affected. The focus of inflammation is in the synovium , which can become swollen, warm, painful, and stiff, and eventually becomes damaged when inflammation is prolonged. In 30-60% of patients with RA, blood tests such as rheumatoid factor or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies are positive, helping to confirm the diagnosis. RA can be a very destructive and disfiguring form of arthritis. It is important to control the inflammation in the synovium to stop joint destruction. In RA, other organs and systems in the body may also be affected, including the heart, lungs and eyes.
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Hand Deformities From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Evidence suggests that hand deformities commonly occur in the first year of rheumatoid arthritis if it goes untreated.2 Moreover, people who experience hand deformities in the first year tend to have more severe cases of the disease. 3
In some cases, hand deformities can be treated. In addition, new rheumatoid arthritis medications have reduced the likelihood that rheumatoid arthritis will cause permanent deformities.
The most common finger and wrist deformities are described below.
Hand Doctors In Maryland
The team of hand experts at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder have a profound understanding of the complex networks of blood vessels, nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones that compose the hand and fingers.
If you are experiencing any kind of pain or numbness, its important to see a doctor for an evaluation right away to help you control or eliminate your symptoms. Call us today at 296-6232 to make an appointment, or request an appointment online. Let us help you get back to a more pain-free lifestyle again!
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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 A Rheumatologist
Rheumatologists are expert physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune diseases where joints can be involved. They also care for people with other diseases of the connective tissue and those with osteoporosis. As needed, the rheumatologist coordinates the care his or her patients receive from surgeons and other specialists, as well as from other health care professionals.
In many, but not all cases, people become aware that they have inflammatory arthritis when they develop symptoms of inflammation in one or more joints. On a simple level, joints are where two bones are attached. A joint can be fibrous and a simple connection without movement, such as joints in the pelvis. However, most joints are “ball and socket joints”, which are covered with a smooth layer of specialized tissue called cartilage – allowing for a gliding motion examples are the knees, elbows, shoulders, hips or elbows. Other structures that attach the bones to each other and to muscles include the tendons, tissue that attaches muscles to bones and the ligaments, tissues that attach bone to bone. These can also be targets of inflammation in inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, the joints are held together by a capsule, a kind of protective container that is lined with a membrane called the synovium. In inflammatory arthritis inflammation of the synovium is what usually causes pain, stiffness and swelling. This is called “synovitis”.
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Are There Different Types Of Finger Arthritis
is the most common type of finger arthritis. OA is also called degenerative joint disease because it is caused by wear and tear on your joints as you age. In OA, the protective tissues in your joints deteriorate with time allowing bare bone to rub on bone. This cause joint pain and swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can also cause finger arthritis. Typically, RA will follow the same pattern in each of your hands and will affect the same joints on both sides.
Other possible causes of finger arthritis include:
- Traumatic arthritis, which occurs after a hand injury
- , which occurs with a skin condition called
- Gout, which most often affects the big toe but can sometimes affect the fingers. involves sudden flare-ups of pain, swelling and redness.
- , which is caused by an infection in the joint
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.
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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.
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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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.
How Do You Know If You Have Arthritis In Your Hands
The osteoarthritis of the hands is defined by a number of characteristic changes, including a general achiness upon using the hands, joint stiffness and restricted motions .
If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a weakened grip and subsequent loss of functionality. All the joints of the hands are affected by the inflammatory process which characterizes this condition.
In advanced forms of arthritis, bone spurs can appear as the level of the joints these can reduce the functionality of the hands even further.
It is essential to recognize the signs of arthritis as soon as it is possible, as you can keep the condition under control with conservative measures. Getting a correct diagnosis is essential only a specialist physician can recommend the best treatment paths for you to pursue.
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Hand Rheumatoid Arthritis Signs And Symptoms
The first signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may appear in the small joints of the hands. The fingers, thumbs, and wrists may be painful and swollen, with no clear cause. If left untreated, RA symptoms may become more severe over time, and certain joint deformities may develop.
Other Conditions And Joint Pain
Other forms of arthritis, and other conditions, can also cause joint pain. Examples include:
- fibromyalgia syndrome, a condition in which your brain processes pain in your muscles and joints in a way that amplifies your perception of the pain
- scleroderma, an autoimmune condition in which inflammation and hardening in your skin connective tissues can lead to organ damage and joint pain
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Tips For Preventing Arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis. In fact, most treatments for arthritis are aimed at early recognition and prevention. Genetics can increase your likelihood for developing arthritis, as can a strong family history of the disease. Women are also more prone to arthritis than men.
You may try to prevent arthritis and still develop the disease. However, you can take actions to reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This can help to fight off OA.
- Dont smoke, or quit smoking. This may reduce your chance of developing RA.
- Try to avoid injury when playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- If your job requires a lot of pushing, pulling, or lifting of heavy objects, take precautions to avoid injury to your joints.
- If your job calls for a lot of typing, practice good posture. If necessary, get a special keyboard, wrist cushion, or pad.
What Is A Swan
This happens when the base of the finger and the outermost joint bend, while the middle joint straightens. Over time, this imbalance of the finger joints can result in the crooked âswan-neckâ position. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause it.
A swan-neck deformity can make it almost impossible to bend the affected finger normally. It can make it hard to button shirts, grip a glass, or pinch with the fingers.
Treatment may include:
- Finger splints or ring splints
- Surgery to realign the joints or fuse the joints so they work better
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How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Hand Function
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease. RA symptoms appear in the hand when the immune system mistakenly attacks joint tissues in the fingers, thumb, and/or wrist.
Researchers have found:
- Hand dexterity, grip strength, and the ability to pinch objects between the thumb and fingers are likely to be affected by RA.1,2
- Grip strength may be even weaker when RA inflammation levels are high.3,4
- Problems with hand function tend to be the result of RA joint damage.3
Joint damage can weaken tendons and cause joints to become malaligned or deformed. A significant amount of joint damage happens early on in the disease process, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are important.
Signs And Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand
Stiffness, swelling, and pain are symptoms common to all forms of arthritis in the hand. In rheumatoid arthritis, some joints may be more swollen than others. There is often a sausage-shaped swelling of the finger. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the hand include:
- A soft lump over the back of the hand that moves with the tendons that straighten the fingers
- A creaking sound during movement
- A shift in the position of the fingers as they drift away from the direction of the thumb
- Swelling and inflammation of the tendons that bend the fingers, resulting in clicking or triggering of the finger as it bends, and sometimes causing numbness and tingling in the fingers
- Rupture of tendons with loss of ability to straighten or bend certain fingers or the thumb
- Unstable joints in the wrist, fingers, and thumb
- Deformity in which the middle joint of the finger becomes bent and the end joint hyperextended
- Hyperextension at the middle joint of the finger associated with a bent fingertip
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How Is Arthritis In The Hands And Fingers Diagnosed
A physical exam is the first thing that your doctor would do. X-rays and an MRI are done as well just to determine at which stage is the inflammation. These techniques will help your doctor to find out which symptoms are present and what is the most proper treatment option.
If the doctor thinks that it is Rheumatoid Arthritis that he/she is dealing with, then blood tests might be done as well.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Hand Surgery
Recovery time depends on many factors, including the severity of your condition, type of surgery you had, the skill of your surgeon and your compliance with therapy. Most people can return to their activities about three months after joint reconstruction surgery. Your team of caregivers can give you the best estimate of your particular recovery time.
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