Arthritis of the hand is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints as well as loss of function and loss of strength with daily activities. Joints can become deformed. It can be extremely debilitating for the patient and tends to get progressively worse if untreated.
How does this happen?
Arthritis of the hand can include osteoarthritis or "wear and tear" arthritis as well as joint changes due to trauma. Those joint changes and deformities of the wrist, hand, and fingers can occur due to inflammatory and auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma.
How will we know that this is your problem?
The diagnosis of arthritis is usually made through a combination of your medical history, family history and physical examination. Your physician may order diagnostic tests, such as blood work, x-rays and MRI, which will help rule out other problems and confirm the diagnosis.
How can this be treated?
The initial treatment of arthritis can include rest, ice, modification of daily routines that trigger the joint pain, along with anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Braces or splints are sometimes used. The next step of conservative treatment consists of intra-articular injections such as steroid injections. When non-operative treatment is unsuccessful, then surgical treatment is the next option. Surgical treatments vary depending on the joint but can range from extensive debridement of inflamed tissue to prevent worse progression of disease, tendon transfers for already ruptured tendons to try and restore these functions back to the hand, as well as joint fusions that take away motion but controls the pain and gives stability for better hand function. At various joints, especially for traumatic and osteoarthritis changes, joint replacement implants are available.