You probably don’t realize how important using your hands is until the symptoms of arthritis strike. The crippling pain of arthritis in the hands can make even the simplest of activities difficult, if not impossible. That includes your ability to grasp small objects or lift anything weighing more than a few pounds.
Although women are more likely than men to experience arthritis in their hands, it is a debilitating condition that can happen to anyone, at any age. Most commonly, it happens in the form of osteoarthritis, in which cartilage of the finger joints wears down.
Symptoms of Hand Arthritis
Arthritic hands may have these common symptoms:
- Pain in all or some of the joints of the fingers, thumbs, and wrists
- Stiffness or numbness in fingers, especially in the morning (a sign of rheumatoid arthritis)
- Swollen, red, or warm joints
- The growth of lumps under skin of the hands
- Bony knobs on finger joints
- Difficulty gripping or twisting objects (such as opening a jar)
- With psoriatic arthritis, the condition is accompanied by the skin condition psoriasis
Diagnosis of Hand Arthritis
Here’s the good news: progression of arthritis in the hands can be measured, and therefore treated or managed. For example, patients with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis lose bone density, which can be detected with scanning. Joint damage from osteoarthritis can also be seen on an X-ray.
Treatment for Hand Arthritis
Methods to relieve symptoms of arthritic hands may include:
- Physical therapy: Designed to keep supportive ligaments and tendons flexible, while helping to reduce pain. Hand exercises may include repeatedly squeezing a ball, making a loose fist and opening the fingers to fully straighten, slowly bending fingers and then straightening them out, and placing the hand on a flat surface with fingers extended and slowly lifting each off the surface.
- Hot and cold therapy: Reduces swelling (cold) and eases stiff joints (heat).
- Splinting: Involves wearing a protective brace for a single or multiple fingers, depending on the source of arthritic pain.
- Medication: In the form of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), oral steroids or steroid shots, or cortisone injections.
- Surgery: In rare cases, hand surgery is also an option, depending on the extent of the arthritis and if you’re a younger, more active individual.
While arthritis cannot be prevented, being active, limiting your intake of sugar, and refraining from smoking can reduce your risk of developing the condition. It’s important for you to monitor your joints for signs of arthritis as you age. Consult with your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms, to help slow disease progression and get the relief you need.
Expert Pain Treatment in Texas
Arthritis doesn’t have to restrict your activities. The doctors at Balcones Pain Consultants are here to help treat and manage your arthritis so that you can live a happy and productive life. To schedule an appointment, call us at (512) 834-4141 or use our Online Appointment Request Form.