Arthritis of the hands is inflammation of one or more of your joints. It can affect any of your body joints including those of the hand. Common forms of arthritis affecting the hands are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In this article, we are going to present some points about the arthritis of the hands.
- Common sites:
When arthritis happens in the hands, it usually affects one of the following sites:
- The base of your thumb where it meets the wrist.
- Proximal and distal interphalangeal joints (joints closest to the fingertips and those in the middle of the fingers.)
- Risk factors:
Osteoarthritis of the hand is also called wear and tear arthritis. That is because it tears the cartilage between your joints and reduces the joint mobility. Here are some factors that make you more liable to have arthritis:
- Old age.
- Women are likely to get it.
- Fractures and dislocations.
- Joint problems such as weak ligaments and overuse.
Joints affected with arthritis show signs of inflammation which include:
- Morning stiffness may take a longer time in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Redness and hotness of the inflamed joints.
- Swelling and lumps near your finger joints.
- Difficulty in mobility.
- Without treatment, arthritis gets worse and can cause joint deformity.
Usually, the symptoms are more prominent in the morning. Some factors can induce the severity of the symptoms such as:
- Cold weather.
- Heavy exercise or violent movements of the hand.
- In addition to your medical history, clinical examination and medical investigations are done to determine what kind of arthritis you are having.
- In case of osteoarthritis, lumps and nodules are harder than those of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Genetic factors and family history may play a role. If your doctor suspects that you’re having rheumatoid arthritis, some blood tests will be ordered to detect the presence of certain antibodies such as rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP.
- X-ray can detect the presence of any deformity, fractures, or dislocations.
The treatment of hand arthritis relies on many factors such as the progress of the disease, the number of involved joints, your age, and your level of activity.
Generally, the treatment is only symptomatic; it can’t reverse the damage of the cartilage.
- Medical treatment:
Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen are the first-line treatment of arthritis. In case of rheumatoid arthritis, diseases modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are commonly added.
Cortisone injection is effective if the disease isn’t responding to anti-inflammatory drugs. Usually, injection is combined with splinting of the affected joint to reduce the stress applied to it.
- At-home therapies:
Assistive devices and simple hand exercises are advised to maintain a normal range of motion of the affected joints.
In the morning, warm fomentations can loosen up the joints. Later in the day, when the pain worsens due to activity, ice therapy can relieve the pain.
- Surgical treatment:
If you aren’t responding to the previous lines of treatment, or there is extensive joint damage and deformity, joint replacement is the perfect choice to restore function and relieve the pain.
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