The hands are complex structures, each containing 27 bones that are surrounded by cartilage, or connective tissue, which cushions the bones during everyday movements and allows you to perform a wide range of motions without pain. When the cartilage surrounding any or all of these bones breaks down or deteriorates, it can result in hand arthritis, a condition characterized by bone-on-bone friction that leads to joint inflammation, pain, and swelling.
Though arthritis in hands and fingers is a common condition affecting millions of Americans, each patient’s needs are unique. At Mirza Orthopedics, our orthopedic doctors provide compassionate care and expertise in dealing with all types of hand arthritis. Whether your condition can be treated with nonsurgical options or requires surgery due to its severity, Dr. Ather Mirza and Dr. Justin Mirza will tailor an arthritis treatment plan based on your individual needs. We are dedicated to getting you back to your active life with better results and less downtime, serving patients of all ages from Suffolk County, Nassau County, and beyond. If you suspect that you may have hand and finger arthritis, book a consultation today by filling out the form on this page.
What causes hand arthritis?
Hand arthritis occurs when the cartilage that surrounds any of the numerous bones in the hand is worn down. As a result, the bones in the joint begin rubbing together, causing painful inflammation. This deterioration of cartilage may be caused by normal wear and tear over time, a specific injury, or an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
There are numerous types of arthritis in the hand and finger joints, based on the location and cause of the cartilage deterioration, including the following:
Osteoarthritis of the Hand & Fingers
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is characterized by the progressive deterioration and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more places in the hand or finger joints. Osteoarthritis can also impact the elbow, wrist, and shoulder.
Posttraumatic Arthritis of the Hand & Fingers
Post-traumatic arthritis is characterized by damage to cartilage in the hand or finger joints that develop following an injury, such as a hand fracture.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by the deterioration of cartilage in the hand joints due to the immune system attacking the tissues.
Osteoarthritis of the Thumb (Basal Joint Arthritis)
Like osteoarthritis of the hand, osteoarthritis of the thumb (also known as basal joint arthritis) is characterized by a loss of cartilage at the base of the thumb, leading to pain and an unstable metacarpal bone.
What are the symptoms of arthritis in the hands and fingers?
If you have arthritis of the hand, fingers or at the base of the thumb, you will likely experience:
- Pain in the joints that may be dull or have a burning sensation
- Hand and finger stiffness, particularly when you first wake up
- Pain that gets worse with activity and heavy use
- Pain that worsens over time
- Limited range of motion in the hand, fingers or thumb
- Decreased strength in the hand, fingers or thumb
- Grinding, clicking or snapping sensation (crepitus) with any movement of the affected joints
- Changes in the mobility of surrounding joints
- Cysts on the fingers (usually seen if you have arthritis at the tips of the finger joints)
What does treatment for arthritis in hands and fingers entail?
In many cases, symptoms of hand arthritis can be successfully managed long-term with nonsurgical methods. Conservative treatments for arthritic hands and fingers commonly include:
- Resting the hand and fingers
- Modifying activities that cause hand and finger pain
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications
- Applying ice or moist heat
- Completing stretching and strengthening exercises, which may include undergoing a physical therapy program to improve the hand and fingers’ range of motion
- Getting steroid injections
- Splinting the hand and fingers
- Getting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
In cases where hand, finger or thumb arthritis is more severe and conservative treatments have failed to produce successful outcomes, surgery may be the best option to provide long-lasting symptom relief. There are a number of different surgery options for arthritic hands and your doctor will recommend a procedure based on your individual needs.
A joint fusion (also known as arthrodesis) is one treatment option for severe hand or finger arthritis. It involves fusing the bones of the affected joint together, which effectively eliminates pain but also causes the joint to become permanently fixed. In some cases of hand arthritis, joint replacement surgery may be recommended in order to relieve pain and restore function.
If you’re suffering from painful hand arthritis symptoms (including arthritis of the fingers and basal joint arthritis) that are impacting your quality of life, Mirza Orthopedics in Smithtown can help. Schedule an appointment with our Long Island orthopedic hand doctors by contacting our office today.