Arthritis (Hand)

Introduction

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.

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