How Is Arthritis In The Hand Treated
Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, stage of arthritis, how many joints are affected, your age, activity level, the hand affected and other existing medical conditions.
Goals of treatment are to:
- Improve mobility and function.
- Increase your quality of life.
- In the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to slow the progression of the disease.
Treatment options include splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.
Splits or braces support and protect the affected joint, reduce deformity, provide joint stability, lessen strain, and promote proper joint alignment. Your healthcare provider, occupational therapist or hand therapist will discuss splinting/bracing options, how and when to wear them and how long to wear them .
Steroids reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Steroids are usually used if medications dont control inflammation or if the inflammation is limited to a few joints. Injections are administered directly into the affected joint. Because steroids can weaken tendons and ligaments, injections are repeated only a few times.
Other management strategies
A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
If nonsurgical treatments no longer provide relief and the cartilage at the ends of your bones has worn away, surgery may be an option. There are several approaches:
How Does Synovitis Of Joints Present Itself
Synovitis is the inflammation of the synovial membrane or the joint lining. It is generally linked with joint disorders, overuse, injuries or infection. The common presentation is pain with difficulty in joint movement and swelling. Redness and warmth around the affected joint and sometimes fever may also be seen.
The common sites of synovitis are the knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, wrists, jaw joint and almost any joint in the body. While there may be slight variation in the way synovitis affects different joints, the presenting features are similar. It can affect a single joint or sometimes multiple joints may be involved.
- Synovitis of knees is very common makes knee bending or straightening difficult and painful.
- Synovitis of hips and ankles can cause difficulty in walking and joint movement. Pain may even cause limping.
- Synovitis of shoulders causes pain in shoulders and can have pain and difficulty in lifting the hands.
- Synovitis of wrists can cause pain with difficulty in lifting objects or fine movements of the hands.
- Synovitis of temporomandibular joint can cause pain at the jaw, which may extend to the ears, head and neck. There may be difficulty in opening mouth, chewing and yawning.
What Makes The Hand And Wrist Unique
The hand and wrist are made up of multiple joints that function independently but also need to work and coordinate together to achieve proper movement.
The wrist is divided up into different regions defined by the joint articulations:
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How Your Hand And Wrist Works
This structure has three parts: the fingers, the hand, and the wrist. Each finger is made up of three bones, except the thumb, which has two.
Five metacarpal bones make up the hand. The wrist consists of eight small bones, called the carpal bones. The forearm bones, radius and ulna connect to the carpals, creating the wrist joint.
The wrist has multiple ligaments connecting the carpal bones to each other and to the forearm and fingers. Bones are connected to other bones by ligaments, which help provide stability. Ligament injuries can cause pain and instability in the hand or wrist.
Within the hand, many muscles help move each finger. Some muscles have tendons that travel across the wrist and run through a bony tunnel called the carpal tunnel. This tunnel is covered by soft tissue which can trap inflammation over the tendons and cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the hand and fingers.
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What Are Common Causes Of Wrist Joint Pain
Wrist joint pain may be caused by several contributing factors, some of which include arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Acute trauma caused by injuries to the hand may also cause symptoms of wrist pain. Tendinitis and bursitis may also produce painful symptoms involving those areas. Although rare, malignant and benign tumors may also cause pain in the wrist.
Joint pain in the hands is a common complaint among the elderly. Osteoarthritis may occur when chronic inflammation causes a wearing down on joints over a long period of time. This deterioration may take several years to manifest into symptoms that include severe pain in the joints. Symptoms of wrist joint pain include swelling in the affected areas and pain and stiffness. The stiffness may lead to immobility of the affected joints.
Many individuals who work in professions that require constant use of the hands can develop wrist and joint pain. In some cases, the pain may worsen over time and require aggressive treatment or even surgery. Surgery is typically performed to restore full function and mobility to areas of the wrists and hands that have become severely damaged.
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What To Expect At Your Office Visit
Your provider will perform a physical exam. You will be asked about your symptoms. Questions may include when the wrist pain began, what may have caused the pain, whether you have pain elsewhere, and if you have had a recent injury or illness. You may also be asked about the type of job you have and your activities.
X-rays may be taken. If your provider thinks that you have an infection, gout, or pseudogout, fluid may be removed from the joint to examine under a microscope.
Anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed. Injection with a steroid medicine may be done. Surgery may be needed to treat some conditions.
Is It Arthritis In My Hand Or Tendonitis
Arthritis and tendonitis can mimic each other, so its important to understand the difference between the two. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons in your hand due to an injury or repetitive motion, and the pain can come and go suddenly or last for a few days.
Arthritis, however, is inflammation of the joint due to degenerative joint disease. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis , when the protective cartilage in the joint breaks down, and rheumatoid arthritis , when immune system attacks the joints. Early symptoms of arthritis include painful hand joints, burning sensation and decreased functionality of the hand and/or wrist.
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Treating Hand And Wrist Pain
If the pain is creeping in, you can help relieve the pain at home. Applying heat or ice to the sore area can help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and improve movement. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or pain relievers might help if needed. Try modifying your activities to give your achy hands or wrists a rest.
Worsening pain means making an appointment with your physician. They can offer you other treatments to help. Those treatments can range from splinting to various surgical techniques.
At Beaumont, our orthopedic hand and wrist surgeons use the most advanced and proven techniques to improve the lives of patients. We work closely with specialized hand therapists and other team members to relieve your pain, regain your function and get you back to activities.
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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.
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What Type Of Hand Surgery Is Most Commonly Performed On The Specific Joints Affected By Arthritis
- Base of the thumb: Where your thumb and wrist join. Common surgical options include removing part or all of one of the trapezium bone , tendon transfer or joint fusion.
- Knuckles : Joint replacement is almost always considered for this repair. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause serious damage and disability to your knuckles.
- Second joint of your finger : Osteoarthritis commonly causes stiffness and loss of motion. Joint replacement or fusion are considered for these joints. Because you use these joints frequently, there is a chance your implant could wear out. In this case, your provider may recommend further surgery.
- Top of finger joint : Joint fusion is commonly used to treat arthritis in this joint.
What Are The Common Causes For Hand And Wrist Pain
Human hands are intricate and delicate structures with 27 bones. Hand muscles and joints allow for powerful, precise, and dexterous movements, yet they are prone to damage. Most cases of hand and wrist discomfort arent indicative of a significant or long-term condition, and theyll go away in a few days or weeks with some easy self-care at home.
A variety of illnesses, including arthritis, can produce pain or other symptoms in the hands and wrists.
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Less Common Symptoms Of Wrist Tendonitis
Some less common symptoms of wrist tendonitis may include:
- Pain at rest. In advanced stages of wrist tendonitis, a person may experience constant wrist pain, even at rest.5
- Numbness. In cases where the affected tendon pinches on or irritates an adjacent nerve, numbness in one or more fingers may occur. This may lead to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.6
- Loss of motion. Although rare in the wrist joint, calcium deposits in the tendons may lead to tendon hardening. This condition, known as calcific tendonitis, may cause severe stiffness and pain. Sometimes, a low-grade fever may also occur in calcific tendonitis of the wrist.7
- Depression and anxiety. In some people with wrist tendon pain, decreased pain tolerance may cause depression. Avoiding physical work in anticipation of pain may further result in anxiety, irritability, and frustration.8
In tendonitis resulting from a sudden force such as an accident or acute trauma, fracture of bones, nerve damage, and/or ligament injury may also occur. A medical professional can help diagnose and treat wrist tendonitis and other wrist injuries.
Why Does Stress And Anxiety Cause Joint Pain
Life is full of stressful situations. You may feel stress over meeting a deadline, managing finances, or even something as simple as getting the kids out the door in the mornings .
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives.
Stress has become such a part of daily life that many people dont realize its a problem until symptoms become unbearable, and sometimes, irreversible.
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Causes Of Wrist Pain You Should Never Ignore
Every day, we rely on our hands to function, and if you feel pain in the wrist, then it might impede your ability to perform daily activities. Wrist pain can happen for many reasons, from accidents to sudden injuries. It can also be because of a chronic condition. Regardless of its cause, it would be best if you took care of your wrist. Here are seven causes of wrist pain that you should never ignore.
Common Causes Of Shooting Pain In The Wrist
Every day we rely on our hands to help us function. If you experience shooting pain in the wrist, it can affect your ability to perform daily activities and quality of life.
One of the most common causes of wrist pain is often a result of chronic conditions, such as repetitive stress. Motions such as typing, texting, playing video games, etc. can put extra stress on joints, ligaments, and tendons. Wrist pain can also be caused by physical impact. Injuries from a fall or sport accident can lead to wrist sprains, strains, or fractures. Sharp, shooting pain and numbness into the hand, however, is frequently due to nerve disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Learn about common causes of shooting pain in the wrist, treatment options and when to seek treatment.
Wrist tendonitis, also called tenosynovitis, is a common condition characterized by irritation and inflammation of the tendons around the wrist joint. Many tendons surround the wrist joint. Wrist tendonitis usually affects one of the tendons, but it may also involve two or more.
Often, wrist tendonitis occurs at points where the tendons cross each other or pass over a bony prominence. These are possible sites of irritation and can lead to discomfort when moving the wrist joint.
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Protect Your Hands From Cold
- Wear gloves anytime it is cool outside.
- Use an insulated cover when you drink from a cold glass.
- Avoid caffeine and tobacco products. Nicotine and caffeine cause blood vessels to narrow, which decreases blood flow to the hands.
- Eat a hot meal before going out. Eating raises your body temperature and helps keep you warm.
How Is Synovitis Of Knee Hip Wrist Ankle And Other Joints Diagnosed
As synovitis affects the joints, there is some history related to the underlying cause. History may reveal overuse of joint, presence of fever or infection, trauma, chronic joint conditions, any inflammatory or autoimmune disease. Clinical examination of the affected joint can confirm pain, swelling and joint stiffness. Joint may be warm effusion gives a puffy or boggy appearance to the joint and the range of motion may be reduced.
Investigations include laboratory tests like complete blood count , erythrocyte sedimentation rate , C-reactive protein to determine inflammation or presence of infection. RA factor and other tests may be done if rheumatoid arthritis is suspected. Any other specific tests may be ordered based on the clinical symptoms and suspected condition.
Joint aspiration and synovial fluid analysis may be done to detect the nature of the fluid, presence of infective organisms, crystals, blood, etc. Imaging studies may include joint X-rays to study bone changes, injuries and degeneration. MRI studies or other advanced scans may be performed if appropriate.
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Bad Posture & Stress Cause Carpal Tunnel
Work deadlines, pressure to produce, and other workplace tensions are the source of stress and anxiety. Indeed, most people ignore their posture at the workstation and focusonlyon getting the job done.
If youâre stressed and anxious, your attention is not on maintaining good posture. As a result:
The abnormal forces get transmitted to the arm and hand, and ultimately to the wrist joint. If youâre prone to getting carpal tunnel syndrome, all it takes is this slight âextraâ disturbance for tendons to swell and crush the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome is thus born.
The relationship is clear:
Exercise For Arthritis In The Wrist
Its important to exercise your wrist joints to promote range of motion, improve flexibility, and prevent additional damage. Your doctor will likely send you for physical therapy so you can do these exercises under supervision and then repeat them at home. Your physical therapist can develop a program thats right for you. The stronger the muscles are around the joint, the better youll feel, says Dr. Hampton. Here are some range-of-motion exercises, including some for your wrist, which you can try at home.
In addition to physical therapy, its a good idea to do regular cardiovascular and strength training exercises that dont put too much pressure on your wrist joints. Swimming and water exercises, for example, places less pressure on the joints since water helps supports the body. Tai chi and yoga involve gentle, flowing movements. Walking is low-impact exercise thats well-suited to people with arthritis. Avoid any exercises with a pushing movement or that put weight on the wrist as that could exacerbate your wrist pain, says Dr. Hampton. You want to stay active, he says. Keep the muscles and tendons around the joint strong. That will help with pain.
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