Hand Arthritis

What Is Hand Arthritis?

Unlocking Relief: Hand Arthritis Decoded

Understanding Hand Arthritis

Arthritis, characterized by joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, affects millions of people worldwide. Among its various forms, osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, stands out as the most prevalent. Osteoarthritis frequently targets the hands due to their constant use. In addition to this, there is another form called rheumatoid arthritis, which shares similar symptoms with osteoarthritis but has distinct causes and systemic effects.

Osteoarthritis of the hand unfolds as the cartilage protecting finger joint bones gradually wears away. Over time, with joint stress, cartilage thins and may erode entirely, leading to discomfort and rigidity. Arthritic hands may lose their natural shape and mobility. While osteoarthritis predominantly strikes the elderly, rheumatoid arthritis can manifest at any age, although it becomes more prevalent in middle-aged and older individuals.

Hand Arthritis Risk Factors

Several factors elevate the risk of developing hand osteoarthritis:

  • Anatomical Abnormalities: These can include joint instability or misalignment.
  • Heavy Hand Use: Occupations or sports activities demanding significant hand usage may contribute.
  • Traumatic Injury: Past injuries can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis.
  • Genetics: A genetic predisposition may make some individuals more susceptible.
  • Obesity: Carrying excess weight can strain joints, potentially accelerating osteoarthritis.

While some people may encounter osteoarthritis at an early age, most experience its effects as they age due to increased joint wear and tear. Men are more prone to develop osteoarthritis before age 45, whereas women between 40 and 50 face a higher risk. By the ages of 70 to 80, the gender gap narrows, and both men and women seem equally affected. The precise reasons behind these variations remain under investigation. For rheumatoid arthritis, the risk factors are yet unknown, though genetics may play a role.

Spotting Hand Arthritis Symptoms

Hand arthritis exhibits various shared symptoms, affecting hand, wrist, and finger joints. These symptoms may include:

  • Deep Aching Pain: Persistent discomfort.
  • Stiffness and Swelling: Joints become rigid and swollen.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Reduced hand and finger mobility.
  • Crepitus: A grating or grinding sensation or sound during joint movement.
  • Mucus Cysts: Formation at the fingertips.
  • Grip and Object Manipulation Difficulty: Trouble using fingers effectively.
  • Hand Weakness: Reduced hand strength.

Common areas for arthritic inflammation in the hand include the base of the thumb, middle finger joint, and the joint closest to the nail. Bumps or nodes may develop on the arthritic hand. Heberden’s nodes refer to nodes near the nail joint, while Bouchard’s nodes appear in the middle of the finger.

Diagnosing Hand Arthritis

To diagnose osteoarthritis, a comprehensive assessment, including a physical examination and medical history, is performed. While some arthritis symptoms are visibly apparent, such as joint swelling, deformities, and restricted movement, diagnostic tools like X-rays and bone scans are also utilized. These tests may reveal reduced cartilage, bone spurs, or even the presence of arthritis before symptoms emerge.

Tailored Treatment for Hand Arthritis

Hand arthritis treatment varies based on the underlying cause and symptom severity. Various interventions can alleviate pain and enhance mobility:

  • Rest: Providing a break for the affected hand.
  • Heat or Cold Therapies: Temperature-based therapies to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Analgesics: Pain relievers to alleviate discomfort.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Drugs to reduce inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: Injections to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Splints: Supports to stabilize affected joints.
  • Physical Therapy Exercises: Specialized exercises to improve mobility.

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, whether topical or oral, over-the-counter or prescribed, are administered based on the severity of the condition. Severe cases may necessitate arthroscopic surgery for hand osteoarthritis. Surgical options range from joint reconstruction to joint fusion and may involve the removal of irregular tissue surfaces or joint repositioning. Hand arthritis, when managed appropriately, enables individuals to regain comfort and functionality.

At City Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, our dedicated care addresses Hand Arthritis, providing personalized solutions to cater to your specific needs. Reach out to us for expert guidance and relief from the challenges of Hand Arthritis.

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