Please call the office to schedule an appointment.
Skip to main content

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Your Hand

In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the body’s immune system attacks tissues and joints, causing pain, swelling, and joint deformity. Hand arthritis affects the lining of the joints in the hand, which become inflamed and painful. A chronic condition, RA tends to worsen over time without treatment and can cause disability.

Here at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, board-certified orthopedic specialist David Dickerson, MD, and our team specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect your joints, tendons, muscles, and other connective tissues, including hand arthritis. Patients who visit us receive the highest level of care. We’re dedicated to effectively managing your condition to relieve your pain and improve functioning. 

Joint inflammation

 There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are two of the most common types. Normally, each joint has two smooth bone surfaces covered with cartilage that fit together and move against one other without friction.

Arthritis occurs when the connective tissues that cushion joints become damaged or breakdown, causing the bones to rub together. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but hands and fingers are common victims.

Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand

Rheumatoid arthritis affects tissue that lubricates the joints called synovial tissue. This specialized tissue swells as a result and damages the cartilage and bone in the fingers.

Over time the inflamed synovial tissue can stretch surrounding connective tissue, causing deformity in the joints of the hand.

Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the hand

Arthritis of the hand causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. In rheumatoid arthritis, some hand and finger joints may be more swollen than others. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the hand include:

Symptoms can vary from person to person and depend on the duration and severity of your rheumatoid arthritis. 

Diagnosing hand arthritis

Dr. Dickerson examines you and determines whether you have similar symptoms in other joints and assess the impact of the condition on your life and activities. The appearance of the hands and fingers also helps Dr. Dickerson to diagnose the type of arthritis. 

Imaging, such as X-rays, reveal certain characteristics that help determine if you have rheumatoid arthritis, joint space narrowing, swelling, and bone erosion. Dr. Dickerson may order blood or other lab tests to confirm the diagnosis. 

Treating hand arthritis

Hand arthritis treatment aims at relieving pain and restoring function. Anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroids, and steroid injections are often used as first-line treatments. Medications that suppress the immune system may be used as well. Dr. Dickerson may refer you to a physical therapist to help relieve hand pain and reduce pressure on the joints of the hand.

In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis may cause serious issues, such as tendon rupture, inability to use your hand, and deformity. Surgery may be necessary to repair tissue and restore function. Surgery to treat hand arthritis includes removing inflamed joint linings, joint fusion, joint replacement, and removing damaged bone. Dr. Dickerson helps you decide the most appropriate treatment for you.

Living well with hand arthritis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, appropriate treatment can give you relief from pain and improve hand function. It is particularly important to seek treatment before more severe symptoms occur.

We’re standing by to help you get relief from painful hand arthritis. To learn more about treatment for hand arthritis and to schedule a visit with Dr. Dickerson, call the nearest office where our helpful team can answer your questions and schedule an appointment. We have offices in Toms River, Shrewsbury, and Wall Township, New Jersey.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Prescribe FIT Can Improve Your Overall Health

Prescribe FIT® is an innovative, integrative approach to health that can help you heal after orthopedic injuries and improve your overall wellness. Here’s how this holistic approach could help you improve your health and well-being.

Does an Elbow Fracture Require Surgery?

Elbow fractures are surprisingly common; like other fractures, they can range from mild to severe. Treatment varies, too. Here’s how to tell when your elbow fracture needs surgery and when conservative treatment is better.

How to Get Rid of Shin Splint Pain for Good

Shin splints make each step agonizing and seem to take forever to heal. The good news is there’s more than one way to treat them and prevent them from happening again. Read on to get expert advice on avoiding shin-splint pain for good.

Common Running Injuries to Look Out for and Prevent

Everyday we find ourselves on our feet, whether it’s walking around the house, or running to stay healthy. Unfortunately, there are lots of ways you can get injured doing those basic things. Read on to find out how to avoid them.

5 Soft Tissue Injuries That Cause Hand Pain

It’s easy to take your hand for granted — until it starts to hurt. The best way to get rid of the pain is to understand where it’s coming from. Read on to learn about five common causes of hand pain that stem from soft tissue injuries.