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Hand Arthritis

  • What is Hand Arthritis?

    Arthritis is a general term for swelling / inflammation in the joints. Arthritis of the hands specifically refers to swelling of the wrist and/or finger joints, a common cause of pain in hands.

  • Arthritis tends to occur in older patients or those who have previously injured their hand. Some may have other forms of inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis (body's immune system attacking itself) or gouty arthritis (deposition of uric crystals in joints).

  • The symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid (inflammatory) arthritis are similar. These include:

    • Grinding, clicking or cracking feelings in the affected joint with movement
    • Abnormally-shaped joints
    • Pain in the affected joint which worsens when the joint is used (eg. when gripping heavy objects) but is relieved with rest
    • Pain may become constant over time – changing from a dull ache to a sharp pain, which sometimes spreads beyond the affected joint
    • Reduced movement in the affected joint
    • Swollen red joints that are tender to touch
    • Weak joints

    People with rheumatoid (inflammatory) arthritis may have more prolonged morning stiffness and greater swelling and redness of the joints than those with osteoarthritis.

  • Treatment includes:

    • Physiotherapy exercises to maintain the strength of your muscles and ligaments to stabilise your joints
    • Medicines:
      1. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis
      2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain, swelling and stiffness in osteoarthritis
      3. Steroids to be injected directly into a joint to relieve pain and swelling
    • Surgery to correct joint deformity or to replace a badly damaged joint
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