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.
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:
- Bony bumps near finger joint
- Pain in the hand and fingers
- Stiffness and reduced mobility of the hand joints
- Change in the shape of the hand joints
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.