All You Need to Know About Arthritis in the Hand
Imagine the number of activities your hands do every day–house chores, washing the kids, writing, browsing on your devices, and the list goes on. As with other parts of the body, your hands play an important part in handling daily activities. Did you know that your hand has more than 15 joints together with the wrists? Well, pains in these joints can be very distractive to your daily performance.
Imagine how much you wouldn’t achieve without the use of your hands. Unfortunately, your hands can be affected with the condition called Arthritis. It’s a condition characterized by painful joints causing difficulty in handling activities. This condition affects people of all ages, but mostly those over 50 years old. If this is not treated, the condition escalates to risky levels. The bones assume different shapes, making it quite difficult to move.
Arthritis is a condition that features greatly inflamed joints. Currently, there are two most common types of Arthritis: rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Though there are more than 100 forms of arthritis, these two commonly affect the hands. A normal joint moves easily and is “slippery” enough. This movement is made easier with the slippery articular cartilage foundation at the end of each bone. This makes the gliding between the bones easier and flexible. Furthermore, you should know that there is a fluid called synovium that makes this movement possible with little tear. It exactly feels and looks like oil enhancing the easy motion.
Course of the Disease
Arthritis results due to wearing out of the cartilages and depreciation of the synovial fluid. This is a gradual process that leads to more and more pain. At its budding stages, many people tend to ignore it for normal pains. As time goes on, the cartilages depreciate leaving bare bones. When the bones touch each other, it becomes difficult and painful to move. Here is how to identify these two types of arthritis:
This is a common condition that affects those over 50 years of age. If you have been talking to your doctor recently, he/she probably referred to it as the wear and tear condition of the hands. The good thing with this situation is that it can be predicted. Under great monitoring, you will discover that the depreciation is consistent in some joints. You may feel some grating and grinding between the affected joints. In advanced situations, a person’s joints feel elongated.
This is a quite advanced and chronic type that affects nearly all joints on your body. It also affects people of all ages. When it happens, the synovial lining, the importance of which you earlier, starts to swell. This lining expands, thus putting pressure on the synovium, which is the lining between the cartilage and the fluid. As this happens, you will be feeling some stiffness accompanied with painful joints especially when you try to move your hands around. This type mostly starts in the small joints in the fingers as it later on proceeds to the wrist joint. If you have been noticing such stiffness and pain in your fingers, then you may experience this type of condition. But what brings this condition on?
Trauma from injuries and fractures is the main cause of multiple cases of arthritis. The unique thing with arthritis in the hand is that most people ignore hand injuries. Some of these injuries may seem too minimal at the time, but internally, these little fractures affect joints. Damages to the joints extend with successive motion, giving rise to hand arthritis. You may be thinking, “But I got treated or fixed after the fracture.” Well, even a fixed fracture can be affected by this condition. Basically, people with past dislocation, injuries, and fractures have a higher risk of experiencing this condition. In some situation, mucus may develop and form in-between the finger joints, igniting the formation of cysts. Cysts are followed with dents in nail plates of the affected finger. If you are suspecting yourself of experiencing the two types, it is highly advisable to visit a doctor for diagnosis.
A doctor can easily know if you have arthritis of the hands by simply examining them, especially in advanced conditions. Early examination can be done through X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging. The latter is mostly applicable when one is presumed to be experiencing Keinbock’s disease. This is where blood vessels rarely supply nutrients to parts of the joints. Occasionally, a bone scan will be needed to determine the level of damage in your cartilage. It is thus very important for you to check with your doctor early for examination to avert extreme conditions that are difficult and expensive to treat. An X-ray may look normal, but an experienced doctor will easily know the level of damage to your joints. The good thing is that this condition can be treated.
Remedies and Treatment
There are both surgical and non-surgical ways of handling arthritis in the hands. What you need to know is that the kind of treatment you will received depends on the number of joints affected, the extent of progress, the type of hand affected (dominant or non-dominant), and your homecare facilities.
These can help remedy the situation, but they may not be as useful to treat an already damaged cartilage. The commonly advertised supplements are Glucosamine and chondroitin. They are compounded with nutrients that help firm up cartilages in your hand. You are advised to consult your doctor before embracing the use of any type of supplement, as a few may have side effects. It may also be helpful to consider using supplements with anti-inflammatory properties, such as fish oil and turmeric.
These are used to cool down the inflamed joint and to bring comfort as the bones heal. They are mostly made up of long-lasting steroid and anesthetic elements for pain relief. Injections have side effects if used repeatedly. At times, injections are used together with splinting. A splint is worn to support the hand when joints really hurt.
Finally, if the above non-surgical methods prove to be in vain, surgery may be necessary. This is basically removal of the damaged joint surfaces. The joint is fused. You will no longer have pains, but this means you will have lost motion in this part of the fingers. However, you can also investigate a joint replacement. This is an advancement over the normal fusing of joints, as it restores function to the removed joint. Different from joints in other parts of the body, hand joints can be easily replaced restoring functionality. This procedure is costly and painful, but if diagnosis is done early, treatment is possible.
Finally, activity that promotes relaxed movement, such as Tai Chi or Yoga, may provide therapeutic benefits to joints suffering from arthritis. Consult your doctor, and have an open mind toward trying different modalities for providing relief.
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