Arthritis in the hands is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints of the hand. Hand arthritis can be a significant burden for people, as it can limit their ability to perform everyday activities and impact their quality of life.
Causes of Arthritis in the Hands
There are many different types of arthritis that can affect the hand. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis in the hands is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears down over time. This can be caused by age, genetics, injury, or overuse.
Rheumatoid arthritis in the hands is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the joints, leading to inflammation and damage. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Symptoms of Arthritis in the Hands
The symptoms of arthritis in hands can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Common symptoms include:
- Pain in the joints of the hand, particularly in the fingers, thumb, and wrist.
- Stiffness in the affected joints, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
- Swelling and redness in the affected joints.
- Weakness and difficulty gripping objects.
- Numbness and tingling in the fingers.
Diagnosis of Arthritis in the Hands
To diagnose arthritis in the hands, your provider will typically perform a physical examination and may order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound. Blood tests may also be ordered to rule out other conditions that can mimic arthritis, such as gout or lupus.
Treatment of Arthritis in the Hands
There is no cure for hand arthritis, but there are many treatment options that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment for arthritis in hands may include:
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Occupational Therapy: Hand therapy and hand exercises for arthritis can help improve hand function and decrease pain.
- Assistive Devices: Splints, braces, and other assistive devices can help support the hand and reduce pain.
- Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to restore function and reduce pain.
Prevention of Arthritis in the Hands
There is no guaranteed way to prevent arthritis in the hands, but there are some lifestyle changes that may help reduce the risk or delay the onset of the condition. These include:
- Engaging in regular exercise to keep the joints flexible and strong.
- Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Protecting the hands from injury or overuse.
Hand arthritis is a chronic condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. While there is no cure for arthritis in the hands, there are many treatment options that can help manage symptoms and improve function. By working with one of The Center’s hand and upper extremity specialists, and making lifestyle changes, people with arthritis of the hand can continue to lead active and fulfilling lives.
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