By Louis Neipris, M.D., Staff Writer, myOptumHealth
Arthritis in the hands can literally tie your fingers into knots. Fluid motions that should come easily - like opening a jar, tying your shoe or using a pencil - are now awkward and painful. Some types of arthritis can even cause the fingers and wrist bones to bend out of shape. Even shaking hands is hard to do. Getting arthritis diagnosed and treated soon after you notice symptoms is critical. Treatment can often stop further damage to your hands and preserve function.
What causes arthritis of the hands and wrists?
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most common arthritic conditions of the hands. Osteoarthritis can cause gradual wearing away of cartilage, including that which lines the joints of the fingers and wrists. Cartilage is the tissue that provides a smooth surface over which a joint can glide. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the tissues that line the joints. This can also lead to a wearing away of the cartilage.
Arthritis in the hands can also develop after an injury. An injured joint is about seven times more likely to develop arthritis, even if the injury is treated. It can also be related to work or hobbies that involve repetitive hand motions.
It is important to find out the type of arthritis you have, because different treatments may be needed.
Symptoms of hand or wrist arthritis can include:
Treatment usually starts with nonsurgical methods.
Depending on your age and other factors, surgery to correct a deformity may be an option.
How can a physical therapist help me with arthritis of the hand and wrist?
A physical therapist can help you to relearn activities so that you can still use your hands even if some joint damage is permanent. You will be shown how to do exercises that you can do on your own and treatments to quell the pain and inflammation:
View the original Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in the hands article on myOptumHealth.com
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