Arthritis (Hand)

  • Introduction

  • Conservative Treatment

  • Surgical Treatment

The hand and upper extremity area involve everything from the bones, nerves, joints, and muscles of the hand, to the wrist, forearm, elbow and shoulder. Collectively, they are imperative for daily activity. The hand has several minor joints that function together to create motion. When there is degeneration and breakdown along with inflammation around one or more joints within the hand or wrist, it is diagnosed as hand arthritis. There are many areas within the hand that are susceptible to arthritis and often it has more than one cause. If the ailment is not treated over time the joint can lose its normal shape causing more pain and even less motor function.

The more common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which cause cartilage to slowly wear away. The end result is loss of the normal joint anatomy and wear, causing pain and inflammation. Another cause of arthritis is pre-existing trauma, such as a fracture or dislocation, which has a direct effect on the joint surface resulting in post-traumatic arthritis.

General symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, changes in surrounding joints, warmth, a loose (or unstable) support of the joints, a rough or grinding sensation in the affected joints, and cysts which may develop around the joints.

The intensity of treatment varies in accordance to the level of severity. Depending on age, progression of arthritis, activity level, and whether the offended appendage is dominant or not, treatments can be as minimal as taking oral medication including anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Injections may be used if oral medications are not effective along with splinting. Splinting aids in relieving stress from the affected area.

Our Physicians whom specialize in conditions of the hand and upper extremity

If conservative measures do not provide relief, surgical treatment may be considered. Several surgical procedures can be utilized; often depending on which one will provide the most pain relief for the longest period of time, allowing return to normal functions and activities based on the patient’s needs. Preservation is typically considered first, but reconstruction of the joints may sometimes be necessary. Newer treatments continue to be developed with the goal of maximizing success and minimizing down time and invasiveness. If damage to the joint has progressed beyond the point where conservative measures are exhausted, joint replacement or joint fusions may be recommended.

Our Physicians whom specialize in conditions of the hand and upper extremity

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