Hand Arthritis

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

We use our hands every day for almost everything we do. We use them to accomplish complex tasks or something as simple as tying our shoes. However, hand and wrist pain can make these everyday tasks seem impossible.

If you currently find yourself in this situation, our experts can assist you! Schedule an appointment at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in Marietta and Atlanta, Georgia today!

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What Is Hand Arthritis?

Hand arthritis is a common disorder that affects the joints in your hand, causing pain and inflammation. Due to the many joints within our hands, arthritis is common. If you develop arthritis in your hands, you may experience joint pain and swelling. It can also result in a deformity.

Common locations where arthritis can develop in your hand include:

  • Your middle joints
  • Your knuckles
  • The base of your thumb
  • Your second joint and top joint of your fingers

Types of Arthritis That Affect Your Hands

There are many different types of arthritis that can affect your hands. The most common of these include:

  • Osteoarthritis: Also known as degenerative arthritis, this is the most common type of arthritis. Hand osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of your finger joints. Your cartilage is a protective, cushioning covering that keeps your bones from rubbing together. Without this protective covering, your bones will start to rub together.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis:  Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic or long-term autoimmune disease. This inflammatory disease causes your joint lining to swell, causing pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Rheumatoid arthritis generally affects the same joints on both sides of the body, meaning that if arthritis affects certain joints in one finger, it is very likely to affect the same joint in the same finger on your other hand as well.   
  • Psoriatic arthritis: This is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects those who have psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis affects your skin and joints, causing joint pain and morning stiffness.

How Can Arthritis Affect My Hands?

Depending on the severity of your arthritis, it can affect you in several ways. Over time, as this condition progresses, many have found it hard to use their hands to accomplish tasks or perform daily activities essential for life that they never had an issue with in the past.

Diagnosing Hand Arthritis

To diagnose arthritis of the hand and rule out other conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, your doctor will perform a physical examination of your hand. They will also take X-rays of your hand to identify any loss of bone cartilage and/or the formation of bone spurs.

Additionally, if your doctor suspects that you may have inflammatory arthritis, they may order a blood test to detect the presence of rheumatoid factor or other antibodies. This test can help determine whether or not the source of your pain is from rheumatoid arthritis.

They will also review your medical history and combine their findings to make an accurate diagnosis as to whether or not you have arthritis.

Hand Arthritis Treatment Options

There are several factors that can have an impact on the treatment that you receive. The treatment your receive to reduce pain will depend on the following factors:

  • The type of arthritis that you are diagnosed with
  • The stage of arthritis that you are in
  • The amount of pain you are in
  • How many joints are affected
  • Whether the affected joints are in your dominant hand
  • Physical activity level
  • Your age
  • Other existing medical conditions that you may have

Non-Surgical Treatment for Hand Arthritis

The following non-surgical treatments for hand arthritis can be used to provide pain relief:

  • Splinting and bracing can be used to support and protect the affected joint, provide joint stability, promote proper joint alignment, and reduce deformity. Your hand therapist will discuss the various splinting/bracing options that are available to you.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain medication, depending on the type of arthritis you have, relieve symptoms such as painful joints and swelling and possibly prevent joint damage.
  • Steroid injections are used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain if the medication does not manage the inflammation well enough.

Surgical Treatments for Hand Arthritis

We strive to treat hand pain without the need for hand surgery. However, sometimes a fusion or joint reconstruction surgery may be necessary.

If your hands do not respond to non-surgical treatments, then hand surgery may be required. Your doctor may recommend one of the following surgical approaches to reduce discomfort:

  • Joint fusion: This surgery fuses your bones together and stabilizes them by means of a plate and screws. While you will now have a stable, pain-free joint, it is important to note that you will have limited flexibility and movement.
  • Joint replacement: Joint replacements are common. During this procedure, our surgeon will use an artificial implant that has been made to replace your damaged joint.
  • Tendon transfer: Tendons play a crucial role because they connect your muscles to your bones. However, continuous inflammation caused by arthritis can cause tendons to tear (rupture). If this occurs, your surgeon can use another section of healthy tendon to restore the functionality of your hand.

Managing Hand Arthritis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. However, mild to moderate symptoms can be managed. You can do this by:

  • Eating nutritious foods to maintain a healthy weight
  • Smoking cessation
  • Performing strengthening and stretching
  • Resting the affected joints

Schedule an appointment at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in
Marietta and Atlanta, GA today to learn more. Our specialists are ready to give you the attention you deserve. Contact us today!

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon