Arthritis of the hand and wrist is relatively common, especially osteoarthritis. As we age the joints in our hands, wrists, and fingers suffer wear and tear from constant use over the years. Often it is in the joints of the fingers and hands and it is here that most people first experience the first signs and symptoms of arthritis.
When we talk about arthritis, we usually refer to osteoarthritis which is a condition relating to wear and tear on the joints. The other common form of arthritis of the hands and wrists is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is not related to ageing. Instead it is a disease of the immune system where the body attacks the healthy tissue of the joints. In osteoarthritis the protective covering over the ends of bones, called cartilage, begins to wear away. As this cartilage wears away the bones begin to rub together. There are 29 bones that make up the hand and wrist and arthritis in any of these joints can cause significant pain and disability.
Mr. Durrant is able to accurately diagnose arthritis by considering the described symptoms as well as taking x-rays of the affected joints. Blood tests may also be recommended in order to rule out rheumatoid arthritis.
The symptoms of hand and wrist arthritis include:
- burning, aching, or grating type of pain in the joints
- swelling, stiffness
- limited range of motion
- weakness in the hands
- redness and warmth over the joints
Small cysts can also form over the finger joints, especially over the end knuckles of the fingers. Pain and stiffness in the joints experienced in the morning is common, and the base thumb joint, where the thumb joins into the wrist, is one of the most common joints to be affected by arthritis.
Treatment of hand and wrist arthritis can include surgical and non surgical means. The aim of treatment is to relieve pain and maintain function and use of the affected joint.
Anti inflammatory tablets have been found to offer relief from the symptoms of pain and swelling in arthritic joints. Sometimes splinting the joint can offer relief from painful symptoms and allow the joint to rest and the inflammation to subside.
Resting the joints is often helpful when the arthritis symptoms flare up, and introducing changes to some daily activities can help to reduce the frequency of painful symptoms. Regular and gentle physical therapy exercises will help to keep joints as mobile as possible and maintain the strength and flexibility within the joints. If the joint deterioration is extensive and causing immobility, then steroid injections can offer relief of painful symptoms.
When joint deterioration becomes too severe then surgery is generally the only option. Some of the damaged bone may be removed which enables relief from pain while still maintaining some mobility of the joints. Bones can be fused together using pins and plates to stop them rubbing and causing pain. This relieves pain but can limit movement of the hands and wrists. Or joints may be replaced with artificial ones. The aim is to remove the painful symptoms of arthritis while still allowing movement and flexibility of the replaced joint.
Recovery from hand or wrist surgery takes a few months, and involves physical therapy in order to regain as much movement in the hand as possible. For the first few weeks it is important to adequately rest the hand in order to allow the swelling to reduce. And physical therapy may need to continue for up to three months post surgery.
Mr. Durrant has taken a special interest in arthroscopic surgery, particularly of the wrist and hand. Mr. Durrant is able to expertly diagnose and offer an appropriate treatment plan for your wrist or hand arthritis.
Contact Mr. Adam Durrant for more information on hand and wrist arthritis or for additional resources on other hand related injuries.