Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Arthritis In Wrist And Hands

What Does Arthritis Feel Like

Hand & Wrist Stretches for Arthritis Pain Relief – Ask Doctor Jo

Not everyone with arthritis will have the same symptoms. Development of symptoms depends on the type of arthritis and how severe your condition is. RA tends to produce long-lasting stiffness, swelling, and redness of the joints. People with RA may also feel fatigue, general discomfort, and lack of appetite.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Wrist arthritis can be challenging in terms of both diagnosis and management. Since hand motions are essential for many higher functions, providers must pay close attention to details while addressing wrist arthritis in a time-sensitive manner to prevent disability. One should consider an interprofessional approach involving rheumatologists, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and occupational therapists whenever appropriate.

While the patient may initially be seen by the primary care provider or the nurse, it is important to refer the patient to the rheumatologist or orthopedic surgeon to confirm the diagnosis the earlier the treatment, the better the outcomes. The pharmacist should educate the patient on drug compliance and check for drug-drug interactions. The team should communicate with each other regarding the treatment steps.

Are Glucosamine And Chondroitin Supplements Helpful For Treating Osteoarthritis Of The Hand

Supplements are not reviewed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration . They are not required to undergo the same rigorous clinical trial methods that medications must undergo in the U.S. Some clinical trials show benefits with pain relief however, there is no proof that these supplements slow the progression of osteoarthritis. If you plan to try these, always check with your healthcare provider before using supplements. These products may interfere with medications you currently take.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Dull or burning joint pain, morning stiffness, swollen joints in your hand are all symptoms of arthritis. Many types of arthritis could affect your hands. Many treatment options are available depending on your exact arthritis type. Medications can reduce joint pain and swelling. Researchers are still working on ways to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. See your healthcare provider if you think you have arthritis in your hands. They will perform a complete exam and offer you a complete treatment plan, which includes hand exercises, use of hot and cold packs, other lifestyle tips and traditional treatments including medications, braces/splints, steroid injections and surgery.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

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Coordinated Specialized Care Through A Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty .

Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Wrist

Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

The wrist is one of the main joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis since this condition often starts in the small joints of the hand and wrist. About one in seven people in the United States has wrist arthritis. This condition can be mild to severe and cause a variety of symptoms, including wrist pain, that can disrupt everyday functioning.

The wrist is the joint connecting the hand to the forearm, and is formed by the radius and the ulna bones. Daily work and personal life activities require the use of the wrist. If you experience wrist pain or discomfort when you use your wrist or at rest, it may be due to arthritis.

ljubaphoto / Getty Images

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What To Expect From Your Doctor

First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. During your physical exam, your doctor will examine your wrist for swelling, pain, and tenderness. The location of the swelling can tell your doctor which wrist joints are most affected. Problems in the wrist can affect peripheral tendons, causing tendonitis.

Next, your doctor will examine the range of motion of the wrist itself. This can show how mild or severe the arthritis is, or if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Your doctor will ask you to twist and flex both wrists in every direction. Finally, theyll manipulate your wrist and thumb joints and ask if you feel pain.

Avoid Tasks That Make The Pain Worse

Try to avoid tasks that are causing the pain or making it worse. This may be anything that has a repetitive nature, such as using a screwdriver, painting or lifting heavy objects. You might be able to change the way you do some tasks to take the strain off your hands and wrists. Some conditions affecting the hand and wrist wont get better until you stop doing certain tasks.

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When Hand Or Wrist Pain May Mean Arthritis

Learn about the various causes of hand or wrist pain, including different kinds of arthritis.

Many forms of arthritis and related conditions that affect different parts of the hands. Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling or numbness in the wrist and fingers. Pitted nails, painful ulcers or thickened skin that makes bending the fingers difficult may also occur. Here are some diseases that affect the hands.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, OA is a chronic condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement.

In hand OA, the joints most commonly affected by OA are the wrists, the joints at the base of the thumb, the middle finger joints and the joints closest to fingernails. In the finger joints, OA can lead to the formation of nodes .

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by a faulty immune system that primarily attacks joints . The result can be joint pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of function. RA commonly affects the wrist and finger joints. RA usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body . If untreated, the disease can cause joint deformities that make it difficult to use the hands.

Juvenile Arthritis


Psoriatic Arthritis

What Causes Ra In The Wrist

What should I know about arthritis in my hands and wrists?

The specific underlying cause of RA including the event that triggers the immune system to malfunction is not well understood. When the disease occurs, symptoms begin with an inflammatory response inside the joint caused by the attacking immune cells. This inflammation results in swelling and pain, especially when the joint is used. Eventually, the inflamed tissues inside the joint begin to thicken, creating increased friction inside the joint that exacerbates the inflammation and painful symptoms.

Without proper treatment, the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones inside the joint can begin to wear away, and the space between the bones become smaller. Over time, the ends of the bones become exposed and pain increases significantly. As the inflammation, swelling and damage continue, joint deformity often occurs.

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How Ra Affects The Wrist

Rheumatoid arthritis is one type of arthritis, and is an autoimmune and chronic condition. An autoimmune disease causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissue. This means in RA in the wrist, the condition will cause damage to the nearby tissue and soften the bone in the wrist.

Everyone’s experience with RA and wrist arthritis varies. Some won’t have symptoms right away, while others may experience extreme pain. People with wrist arthritis may have overlapping symptoms between RA and another condition like carpal tunnel syndrome or gout.

RA joint damage and deformity cannot be reversed, so it’s best to catch the problem and start the treatment early.

Should I Exercise My Hands

Dont be afraid to use your hands. Regular exercise is important in reducing stiffness and keeping your joints and muscles working. Try to make sure you move any affected joints in your fingers, thumbs, knuckles and wrists as far as is comfortable several times a day. You could also see an occupational therapist or physiotherapist for specific hand exercises.

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Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

Convenient Locations

Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.

When Is Surgery Appropriate For Wrist Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of Hand

When the pain is uncontrolled by simple means, then surgery is an option. Historically, wrist surgery involved removing some bones of the wrist joint in earlier stages of disease.

If the arthritis is more advanced, another option is fusion of the wrist joint, either total or partial. Fusion is a surgical procedure that stabilizes the wrist joint by connecting the bone in your arm to the long bone in your hand. While this lessens pain, the wrist can no longer move and bend.

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Wrist Arthritis Management In North Dakota

Pain every now and then is a normal part of life. However, pain caused by wrist arthritis can be debilitating and should not be ignored. If you notice you have any of the symptoms associated with arthritis in your wrist, seek help from an orthopedic physician. There are many ways to manage wrist arthritis so it doesnt take over your life.

The Bone & Joint Center in North Dakota specializes in problems associated with bones and joints, including arthritis. Our board-certified orthopedic doctors have years of experience in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the hands, wrists, and elbows, among others. We also offer physical and occupational therapy for our patients. We have 11 clinics in North Dakota ready to serve you.

You may reach us at 946-7400 or 900-8650. You may also use this secure online form to schedule an appointment with ease.

What Causes Arthritis In The Wrist

The wrist joint is part of the skeletal system. Several bones come together to form the wrist joint.

Cartilage at the ends of bones allows them to glide against each other. Age and some health conditions can wear away this cartilage. When this happens, bone rubs against bone, causing swelling, pain and stiffness. This is arthritis.

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What Steps Are Used To Diagnose Ra In The Wrist

Diagnosis begins with an evaluation of the wrist, including palpation and a range-of-motion evaluation to pinpoint the area of the joint where the pain is located. Diagnostic imaging will be ordered to evaluate and inspect the interior of the wrist joint and blood testing also may be performed. Blood tests can be useful in identifying specific antibodies associated with RA.

Hand And Wrist Arthritis Diagnosis

Hand & Wrist Surgery: Arthritis of the Hand

Our orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing the full range of hand and wrist arthritis problems. Our initial exam generally includes:

  • Taking your medical history: This includes asking questions about when your pain began, whether it affects one or both sides of your body, and when the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications.
  • Physical exam: The orthopedist will examine your affected hand, wrist, or elbow.
  • Imaging tests: Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

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When To See A Doctor

Hand and wrist pain often gets better with things you can do at home.

However, youll need to visit your GP surgery if:

  • your pain isnt getting better after treatment at home for two weeks
  • the pain is getting worse
  • the pain keeps returning
  • the pain is stopping you from doing your everyday activities
  • your hands are stiff and swollen, particularly in the mornings and these feelings dont get better after half an hour
  • as well as being swollen and stiff, your hands are warm and red
  • you also feel generally unwell, especially if you have a high temperature
  • you have ongoing tingling, numbness or weakness in the hands or fingers.

Its important to get urgent medical attention, if:

  • you think youve broken a bone
  • you have extreme pain
  • any part of your hand, wrist or fingers is a funny shape or colour
  • you have lost the feeling of part or all of your hand
  • there was a snap, grinding or popping noise when you injured your hand or wrist
  • you cant move your hand, wrist or fingers properly.

If you have ongoing hand and wrist pain or a specific condition affecting the hand and wrist it could be helpful to see a hand therapist. These are healthcare professionals with expertise in treating conditions affecting the hand and wrist. Your GP, rheumatology department or orthopaedic department could refer you to one.

How Arthritis In The Wrist Is Diagnosed

First, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. During your physical exam, your doctor will examine your wrist for swelling and pain.

Next, your doctor will examine the range of motion of the wrist itself. Your doctor may have you twist and flex both wrists in every direction to assess your range of motion. They will manipulate your wrist and thumb joints and ask if you feel pain in your wrists and thumbs. This exam can show how mild or severe the arthritis is, or if another condition is causing symptoms, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis.

If your doctor suspects inflammatory arthritis, they will order blood tests to detect the presence of certain antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP, which help identify RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis. They may also order blood tests that look for levels of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate .

Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRIs, to assess whether you have joint damage in the wrist.

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How Can I Protect My Sore Hands

Here are some ways to protect the joints in your hands:

  • Take notice of pain it can serve as a warning that your joints are being overworked. Rather than giving up an activity altogether, try taking regular rests during the activity and learning ways to manage pain. You will usually find you can still do the things you enjoy without discomfort.
  • Use larger, stronger joints for example, carry your shopping bags over your shoulder rather than in your hands.
  • Spread the load over several joints try carrying things with two hands.
  • Reduce the effort you have to put in there is a wide range of labour-saving tools and equipment available. Buy pre-cut vegetables and meat to make cooking easier.
  • Avoid gripping things tightly find out about gadgets that can make gripping and holding objects easier.
  • See an occupational therapist to learn more ways to make daily tasks easier and take pressure off your joints.
  • Visit an Independent Living Centre. These centres have a wide range of tools and equipment on display. You can get advice, including where to purchase equipment, in person or over the phone. Occupational therapists are also available at the centres to provide advice about equipment. Although you can drop in at anytime, it is preferred that you call the telephone enquiry service beforehand.

What Type Of Hand Surgery Is Most Commonly Performed On The Specific Joints Affected By Arthritis

Synovial Fluid Analysis of Wrist Joint
  • 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.

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Exercises To Help Hand Arthritis

Increase hand strength, improve finger and thumb mobility and keep arthritis symptoms at bay with this hand workout.

1. Hand Exercises for Arthritis

The Lancet,

2. Grip Strengthener


3. Gentle Fist
4. Finger Rolls
5. Finger Bends
6. O Shape
7. The OK
8. Finger Lift
9. L Shape
10. Finger Stretch
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Arthritis Of The Hand

Arthritis is not a single disease, but a name for joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

A healthy joint consists of two smooth, cartilage-covered bone surfaces that fit together and move smoothly against one another. Arthritis is diagnosed when these smooth surfaces become irregular, dont fit properly together, and essentially wear out.

Arthritis can affect any joint in your body, but it is most noticeable in the hands and fingers. A common form of arthritis that affects the hand is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that most often develops in three sites:

  • Base of your thumb, where the thumb and wrist come together
  • End joint closest to your finger tip
  • Middle joint of your finger

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