Different types of arthritis can affect the hands, arms and fingers, causing pain, swelling and loss of function. Arthritis can’t be prevented, but treatment can help manage it.
There are three types of arthritis that can affect the hand: osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PSA).
Over time, the condition can make it difficult to carry things, write and perform everyday tasks such as bathing and dressing.
In this article, we look at how arthritis works in the hands and what people can do when symptoms appear.
What kind of arthritis do you have?
Various types of arthritis can develop in the hands, including arthritis, RA and PSA:
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called “erosive” arthritis, is the result of degenerative changes in cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disease that leads to joint inflammation.
PSA is associated with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes skin symptoms.
Post-traumatic arthritis is a form of arthritis. It may be the result of an injury.
Common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Pain on moving or breathing
- Inflammation, stiffness and joint deformity
- Weak grip and little action
- Changes in the shape of the fingers, palms and hands
The exact symptoms depend on the type of arthritis.
Symptoms of OA
Common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Pain may be dull and intermittent at first but may be severe and persistent over time
- This pain increases with use and improves with rest
- Decreased stiffness and mobility
- Cracking or grinding sensation when moving joints
- Swelling and weakness
- Bone masses called nodules or knots on the joint of the middle finger or near the tip of the finger
- Joints that feel firm and material
- Joint weakness and loss of stability
- The shape of the hands and fingers changes
- Difficulty using the hands, for example when pressing or touching objects
The symptoms of posttraumatic arthritis will be similar, but the previously injured joint will be in pain.
Symptoms of tuberculosis
People with ulcers on their hands can get:
- Pain in hip joints and fingers
- Joints that feel soft and dusty
- Swelling and inflammation
- This cramp can last more than an hour, especially in the morning
- Velocity decreases
- Muscle thickening and swelling
- Severe inflammation causes long-term damage that changes the shape of the hand
- The loss of strength makes things difficult to handle and they fall easily
- Flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever and general weakness
Symptoms can come and go. May worsen during flare but disappear temporarily during remission.
The name of the PSA
The evidence of the PSA on hand is as follows:
- burning a fire
- Dactylitis, which is a sausage-like swelling of the fingers
- Changes in skin color
- Decreased joint mobility
Many people with PSA also develop psoriasis, which can cause skin and hair changes.
To arrive at a diagnosis, the physician will begin by asking the individual:
- public health
- personal and family medical history;
For more information, the doctor may ask the following questions:
- When did the evidence begin?
- Does it make them worse?
- Why are the symptoms improving?
- Have you recently injured your arm?
- Are there other symptoms such as fever, excessive weight loss, skin rashes, extreme fatigue, dry eyes or dry mouth?
Doctors will also perform a physical examination of the hands to look for abnormal changes. The hands will look for abnormalities such as slightly crooked fingers or knots.
Imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs may also be ordered, or ultrasound scans may be performed.
Doctors may also order blood tests to check for signs of inflammation and the immune system. If there is swelling and fluid around the joint, the doctor may take some fluid for analysis.
The results of this test can help determine what type of arthritis a person has.
What does a blood test show?
Blood tests for RA and PSA measure various markers, including:
- Anticyclic citrulline peptide
- rheumatic component
- It is an antibody
- C-reactive protein
- Erythrocyte filtration rate (ESR)
It can also eliminate rheumatoid arthritis and PSA in OA patients.
Various treatments and home remedies can help manage hand arthritis.
The most appropriate treatment depends on the type of condition. Your doctor will help you plan your treatment.
Exercise can help keep the tendons and ligaments in your arm flexible. It can also help relieve pain.
Your doctor can recommend physiotherapy, where the specialist creates an exercise plan together with you.
The following exercises may help. People should do this carefully and slowly to avoid new pain.
Place your palms on the surface, spread your fingers and bring them back together.
Make a fist and open your fingers to extend them fully. Repeat this several times on each hand.
Keeping your palms straight, move your thumbs to the side, repeat on your palms, then return to the starting position.
Place your wrists on the edge of the table so that your hands hang freely. With your fingers relaxed, raise your arms until you feel a stretch, then slowly lower them.
Turn your hand so that your thumb is pointing up in the same position. Move your hands up and down as if shaking.
It is best to perform this exercise with smooth movements. A physical therapist who specializes in hands may also recommend exercises.
Resting from activities that cause pain can also help relieve pain.
Hot and cold compresses
According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation (AF), hot and cold compresses can help.
Cover with a cold compress and apply to the swollen joint. This can help reduce swelling.
Apply warm compresses to stiff or painful joints or place your hands in a warm but not very hot bath.
Thermal products, including hot and cold compresses, can be purchased online.
Paraffin treatment helps relieve spasms and pain. Your doctor can advise you on a safe and appropriate way to use this treatment.
Splints and other forms of support can help manage pain by immobilizing the joint.
- Arm guards are like gloves without fingers
- In parentheses “how many” are for individual numbers
- Kinesiology tape, a type of tape that moves the fingers
Reliable source: ACR and AFT recommend the use of kinesiology tape and braces to support the joints.
People can buy kinesiology tape and hand supports online.
Cayenne pepper, a compound called capsaicin, is used to relieve pain. Topical preparations containing capsaicin can be purchased over the counter or online.
People should avoid using this medication on broken or cut skin. Also, avoid touching your eyes after application. It can cause pain and burning. People may also experience a tingling sensation after using the cream.
The ACR and AFTTrusted Source note that capsaicin may not be suitable for manual OA because there is insufficient evidence to support it and there is a risk of infection if a person touches the eyes after use.
Treatment of arthritis with drugs
Depending on the variety of arthritis and the harshness of a person’s symptoms, a doctor may recommend medication.
Topical NSAIDs that are applied directly to the joints
Other pain relievers such as acetaminophen or duloxetine
Antirheumatic drugs or disease-modifying biologics for RA and PsA
Oral steroids or steroid injections to reduce inflammation
In some cases, the doctor may recommend surgery such as joint fusion and joint replacement.
This depends on a number of factors, including the type of arthritis, the extent of the damage, and personal needs and preferences.
A person should discuss all of their options with their doctor to make sure they understand the risks associated with the procedure.
Arthritis cannot always be prevented, but avoiding certain risk factors can be protective in some cases.
These same precautions can help slow the progression of arthritis and help manage symptoms if you already have it.
Depending on the type, measures to prevent arthritis include:
- stay active
- Achieving or maintaining a moderate weight, as obesity increases the risk of complications
- Avoid smoking
- Eating anti-inflammatory foods or foods rich in antioxidants with herbal ingredients
- Avoid unhealthy fats and added sugars that contribute to weight gain and inflammation
- In case of symptoms such as lung infection and skin changes, consult a doctor immediately
- Avoid joint damage as much as possible
Different types of arthritis can affect the hands and arms. Symptoms vary, but all can cause pain, swelling and loss of function.
Anyone with symptoms of arthritis in the fingers, wrists or hands should see a doctor.
There is currently no cure for arthritis, but early treatment can help relieve symptoms and reduce the long-term effects of the disease.