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Is This Hand Pain Arthritis?

Hand Arthritis

If you have hand pain, it’s important to understand the potential causes of pain in your hand, including arthritis or injury.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that can affect joints, bones, or muscles, leading to problems like stiffness, pain and swelling in the hand and fingers. Arthritis in the hands may be caused by osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or post-traumatic arthritis (PTA).

  • OA: Osteoarthritis is due to degenerative changes in cartilage.
  • RA:  Rheumatoid arthritis occurs due to an autoimmune condition.
  • PTA: Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis caused by injury or trauma.

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Most types of arthritis may lead to:

  • pain when moving or resting
  • joint stiffness
  • joint swelling
  • joint deformity
  • muscle loss and weakness
  • a decrease in joint and muscle function

Your symptoms may vary depending on the type of arthritis. These differences can assist your doctor in helping to diagnose the underlying cause of hand arthritis symptoms.

How Can You Tell If the Pain in Your Hand Could Be Arthritis?

Depending on the type of arthritis you may have, the following symptoms may appear if you have hand arthritis.

Osteoarthritis symptoms

  • The middle finger joint develops a bony lump
  • The top finger joint near the nail develops a bony lump
  • Deep pain develops under the base of the thumb
  • Hand stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Hard to pinch and grip objects

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

  • Wrist and knuckles pain
  • Wrist and finger deformities that make it difficult or impossible to straighten
  • Ruptured tendons, which make it hard to straighten fingers
  • Fatigue with no known cause
  • Flu-like aches throughout the body

Post-traumatic arthritis symptoms

  • Pain develops mostly in the area where the injury or trauma occurred
  • Deformity that gets worse following an injury

How Can Arthritis Be Treated?

There are several treatment options for hand arthritis.

You could consider oral prescription and over-the-counter pain medications. Be cautious about taking opioid prescription pain relievers for the long-term to avoid dependency problems down the road. You can also talk to your doctor about getting steroid injections in your joints and putting splints on your hands to give them added support.

If medications or splints aren’t effective at treating your hand arthritis, you may need to have surgery to fix the damaged joint. Talk to your doctor or consult with a physician that specializes in orthopedics. A simple, noninvasive method to keep your joints flexible, improve your range of motion, and alleviate arthritis pain is doing hand exercises.

Benefits of Hand Exercise

You can strengthen the muscles that support the hand joints by doing hand exercises. The added strength and support helps you perform hand movements with less discomfort, keeps your ligaments and tendons flexible, and improves your range of motion and hand functioning.

Hand Exercises You Can Do at Home

  • Make a loose fist. Then open your fingers as fully as you can to straighten them. Repeat several times on each hand.
  • Slowly bend your finger. Then slowly straighten it out. Repeat for all your fingers.
  • Place your hand on a flat surface with fingers extended. Slowly lift each finger. Hold your finger at its highest point for several seconds. Repeat with each finger.

You can get personalized advice to help you safeguard the health of your hands from an expert in orthopedic health at NY Orthopedics. We provide the latest surgical and nonsurgical approaches to hand pain and arthritis care. Contact us today by calling (212) 737-3301 to find out more or to set up an appointment. You can also contact us by filling out the form on this page.

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