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Hand with arthritisCauses and Symptoms

Signs of arthritis of the hand refers to pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function. Osteoarthritis results from loss of cartilage and subsequently bone on bone contact that causes the pain. Trauma, overuse, and aging are some of the associated factors. Other types of arthritis related to autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis may affect not only bone but ligaments, tendons, and soft tissue. Joint instability results in abnormal joint wear and chronic pain.  Conservative treatments involve splints, injections, oral medications, modified use, hand therapy or rest of the affected part.

Arthritis Treatment

Surgery may reduce pain and improve function plus improve the appearance. This approach may involve joint replacement with an artificial joint and removal of loose or rough bone around the joint. Some joints like the last joint at the end of the finger may be surgically removed and the adjacent bones fused to give a strong pain-free finger.  Other joints like the third joint from the end of the finger (metacarpal phalangeal joint) may be completely replaced with artificial joints to eliminate the severe pain of osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time crooked finger deformities are corrected so the hand looks better. The goal is improved function. Thumb arthritis at the first carpal metacarpal (CMC) joint, where the thumb bones join the wrist bones, is common. This may be corrected by either:

  1. removing one of the wrist bones(trapezium) and using a tendon graft as a spacer, or…
  2. doing a partial fusion to eliminate a bad joint.

Sometimes just removing a loose piece of bone from the joint or tightening a loose ligament is all that is needed to correct arthritis at the base of the thumb. Each person’s hand needs to be assessed before you will know what treatment you will need. For more information relating to Arthritis CLICK HERE.

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