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.
Balance Rest With Activity
Everyone needs to allow time for rest, and when you have RA, getting adequate rest is particularly important. However, its still important to be active.
Doing too little can also lead to fatigue, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Do some light exercise every day to help keep your joints in shape and to avoid muscle deconditioning.
This showed that physical activity can help people with RA manage fatigue. Regular exercise also can make it easier to get a good nights sleep.
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Managing Hand And Wrist Pain
Research shows it is effective for providing symptom relief for people with carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand because of a squeezed nerve in the wrist.
A study reported in 2017 in the journal Brain found people with carpal tunnel can experience improvements in pain and numbness using acupuncture. In addition, researchers suggested acupuncturewhen done correctlycan also offer long-term benefits and continued improvements in hand function.
These findings could hold promise for hand pain associated with arthritis.
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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.
You Shouldnt Stress Daily Tasks Like Tying Your Shoes Or Using The Television Remote Because Of Arthritis Ease Hand Pain With These Finger And Hand Exercises For Arthritis
If you consider the countless number of times you need your hands to do things throughout the day, they may be one of the body parts you use most frequently. From brushing your teeth to tying your shoes to turning on and off a light switch, your hands and fingers are involved in so many steps of your daily routine. And if youre a hand talker, they get even more work during the day! But many of these simple tasks can become quite painful if you have arthritis in your hands.1
There are things you can do to help with the discomfort of hand arthritis. For starters, rub some Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel on your hands at the first sign of symptoms. Its the first and only OTC gel to contain an NSAID, a powerful medicine for joint pain due to arthritis. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel helps you get a better grip on objectswhether its a paintbrush, hammer or shovelto tackle your next DIY project.
Hands exercises and stretches can also provide arthritis pain relief. Focus on using your hands and strengthening them to help reduce arthritis symptoms overall. How exactly? We asked industry experts Blake Dircksen, PT, DPT, CSCS, orthopedic physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy & Fitness in New York City, and Jordan Metzl, MD, sports medicine physician at Hospital For Special Surgery, to share their top picks for exercises that can help ease arthritis in the hands.
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S To Reduce Hand Pain
If a person is living with pain in their hands from arthritis, they may wish to try:
- practicing gentle motion hand exercises that promote movement and help reduce stiffness
- seeking physical therapy and occupational therapy from certified professionals
- talking to a doctor about medications and topical pain relievers to help with the pain
The Arthritis Foundation add that a person can also:
- use hot or cold therapy
- modify their daily routine to avoid putting stress on the hands and fingers
- talk to a doctor about steroid injections
Some additional steps that a person can take to help prevent arthritis pain in the hands include:
- using kinetic tape as a preventive measure
- using dictation software instead of typing
- avoiding placing excess strain on the fingers by using large joints, such as the elbows or shoulders, to carry the weight of shopping bags
- using other body parts besides the hands to close a door
- using the palm of the hand to hold a phone or tablet to avoid placing strain on the fingers
- changing daily habits, such as stirring food using a shoulder motion
- using utensils with large, easy-to-grip handles
A person should talk to a doctor if at-home methods or treatments are ineffective in managing their arthritis symptoms. It is possible that a doctor will recommend surgery as a treatment option.
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Finger Arthritis Treatment Options:
For early stage to moderate finger arthritis, non-surgical treatments may be recommended.
Non-surgical treatment options for finger arthritis include:
- Hand therapy – Often performed by an occupational therapist, hand therapy can reduce pain and stiffness caused by finger arthritis
- Medications – Your GP may prescribe medications to you. These can reduce the pain and the joint inflammation caused by the arthritis
- Cortisone injections – This is an anti-inflammation medication that can be administered by injection
- Splints – Splints help to support the fingers affected by arthritis and reduce joint stiffness
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.
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.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy
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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.
How Is Hand Osteoarthritis Diagnosed
It’s often possible for your doctor to diagnose osteoarthritis of the hand from your symptoms and a simple examination, without any need for tests. Although x-rays will show changes in the shape or structure of the joint, they’re often not needed to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests are sometimes helpful if there’s any doubt about whether it’s osteoarthritis or another type of arthritis that’s causing your symptoms.
Sometimes gout can affect the hands and this can look very much like osteoarthritis. If your doctor thinks it may be gout then they’ll want to check your urate levels through a blood test. Urate is a waste product which is normally flushed out of the body through the kidneys. But if it builds up it can form crystals in the joints, leading to sever pain and swelling.
It’s less common for the joints where your fingers meet your hand to be affected by osteoarthritis, so if you have pain and swelling in these joints your doctor may ask for blood tests to check for rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the hands and may look similar to osteoarthritis. There are no blood tests et present for psoriatic arthritis, but this type of arthritis is linked to the skin condition psoriasis. Your doctor may therefore ask if you or anyone in your family have a history of skin problems.
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How Can Hand Arthritis Be Treated
Youll want to talk about various treatment options with your healthcare provider. Depending on the severity of your arthritis, you may want to consider:
- Pain relievers such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Voltaren gel, which you can buy over the counter
- Steroid injections for thumb arthritis
- Glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen or turmeric supplementsthese supplements reduce pain for some people, but the FDA doesnt regulate them
- Paraffin wax treatments, which you can do at hom
- Hand warmers when your hands are coldDr. Panico explains that your joints can feel looser with heat and tighter with cold
- Plant-based and anti-inflammatory diets, which might decrease the pain and stiffness from arthritis
- Staying active, which contributes to your overall health
What about those copper-infused products that are marketed to people with arthritis? Their effectiveness hasnt been replicated in clinical trials and they may be no more effective than a placebo, Dr. Panico said.
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Thumb Flexion And Extension
This exercise helps strengthen your extensor pollicis longus, extensor pollicis brevis, and flexor pollicis brevis muscles of the thumb.
To perform this exercise:
- Start by holding your hands out in front of your body with your palms facing upward.
- Isolate just your thumbs and extend your thumbs out away from your hands.
- Then relax your thumbs by bringing them back in line with your other fingers.
- Repeat for 10 repetitions.
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.
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What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
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How Common Is Arthritis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 54 million U.S. adults have arthritis. For about half of those people, arthritis limits their activities.
About 15 million people experience arthritis-related severe joint pain.
Arthritis is more common among women than men, and risk often increases with age.
Arthritis is also commonly diagnosed among those with other chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and can make it more difficult for people to manage these chronic conditions.
Avoid Tasks That Make The Pain Worse
Try to avoid tasks that are causing the pain or making it worse. This may be anything that has a repetitive nature, such as using a screwdriver, painting or lifting heavy objects. You might be able to change the way you do some tasks to take the strain off your hands and wrists. Some conditions affecting the hand and wrist wont get better until you stop doing certain tasks.
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Types Of Finger Arthritis
There are three types of arthritis that commonly affect the fingers:
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, also called wear-and-tear arthritis, is the most common type of finger arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes normal cartilage to wear away. This exposes bare bone at the joints. The most frequently affected joints in the hand are the knuckles of the mid-finger and fingertip and the joint at the base of the thumb.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis causes a different type of joint destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects the whole body. It causes the immune system to attack the soft tissues surrounding the joints. The most commonly affected joints in the hand are the knuckles at the base of the fingers .
- Gout: Gout is a condition that occurs when crystals develop within the joints. These crystals can form in one or more joints when there is too much of a substance called uric acid in the body. While the big toe is the most commonly affected part of the body, gout can also develop in finger joints.
Rarely, other types of arthritis can also cause problems in the fingers.
Top Tips For Managing Arthritis In Your Hands
The internet is overloaded with advice and exercise tips that are good for your hands, and information overload can be overwhelming. Therefore, we have put together a helpful list of tips to manage arthritis pain in your hands, exercises that will help and other useful information.
Arthritis in the hands presents with painful joints, swelling, difficulty with movement, and limited function, like being unable to grip properly. Clinical interventions aim to reduce pain, control swelling, improve range of motion and improve the function of the hand, like gripping.
Early in March, Gail Donaldson, a physiotherapist from Wellhand, did a talk in Wellington and advised people with arthritis in their hands about how they can manage pain and do useful exercises. Much of the information in this article is from the presentation. The video link is at the end of this article.
As with all exercise advice for people with arthritis always work within your comfort level and do not force any movements. No one can tell you how often or how long you should do any exercise.
Your arthritis pain and discomfort is unique to you, and you will need to find your balance. Remember, a key thing to help you find your balance is: too much exercise causes pain, too little exercise cause stiffness. Trial different exercises for different periods and find your balance.
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