Arthritis is a condition which quite literally means inflamed joint. Usually in a joint, you have smooth, cartilage covered bones which move smoothly against each other when they move.
Arthritis generally occurs when those bones become worn down by the smooth surfaces becoming uneven and rubbing together. It is possible for arthritis to appear in any part of the body, although when it appears in the hands and the fingers, it is definitely more noticeable.
Arthritis in the Hands
Overall there are twenty seven bones in our hands and two bones which create the wrist. These include nine main ones and eight smaller ones. If arthritis does develop in the hands it can be extremely painful and often disabling. There are various different types of arthritis in the hand including osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis causes problems for the cells which line and lubricate the joints. It can affect the whole body and it can often affect several joints at the same time on both sides of the body. The lining of the joint generally becomes swollen and inflamed, and it typically erodes the cartilage and the bone.
It is also possible for the swollen tissue to stretch the surrounding ligaments which hold the bones together. This usually ends with deformity and instability of the joints. It is also possible in some cases, for the inflammation to spread to the tendons which are used to connect the muscles to the bones. This often ends with ruptured tendons. When a person gets Rheumatoid arthritis in the hand, it is usually most common in either the finger knuckles or the wrist.
The symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis in the hand include:
Cracking sounds during movement
A little, soft lump on the back of the hand which moves with the tendons which straighten the fingers.
Unstable joints within the fingers or thumb
Any stiffness or swilling within the hand
The above are just some of the symptoms which show once you have arthritis. If you do notice any symptoms you should consult your doctor immediately.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The treatment designed for Rheumatoid Arthritis is aimed towards relieving pain and restoring the hands function. Usually medications are given for arthritis in the hands, which help to reduce any inflammation and to slow the arthritis down so that it does not have much chance to progress. Some treatments include oral steroids and even cortisone injections.
In some cases your physician may suggest that you see a hand therapist in order to exercise the hand as well as providing splints and advice on how you can relieve pain and the pressure on the hand, as well as protect your joints. There are also some devices which could really help with everyday life.
If the arthritis does get to the stage where the tendons rupture, you could find that you end up having trouble straightening or bending the fingers. If the problem is particularly severe, surgery may be the only option. Usually surgery includes removing inflamed joints and giving joint replacements. If the bones are damaged, parts of them may be removed.
The type of surgery will vary depending upon how severe the problem is and where the problem is in the hand. A hand surgeon will be able to give you the best advice possible as to what surgery you do need.
Overall there is no cure for this kind of arthritis, but there are treatments available which can help you to control the condition. It is always better to treat the condition as early as possible in order to stop any permanent deformities and problems from occurring.