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Hand Arthritis

  • What is Hand Arthritis?

    Arthritis of the hands, wrists and fingers is a common cause of pain in the hand. Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints, usually causing pain and swelling.

  • Arthritis tends to occur in older patients or those who have previously injured their hand. Some patients may have other forms of Inflammatory Arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gouty Arthritis.

  • The symptoms of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid (Inflammatory) Arthritis are similar. These include:

    • Grinding, clicking or cracking sensations in the affected joint with movement
    • Misshapen joints
    • Pain in the affected joint — This may be worse when in the joint is used (such as when gripping heavy objects), but is relieved with rest
    • Pain may become more constant over time — Changing from a dull ache to a sharp pain, which sometimes extends 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 longer morning stiffness and more swelling and redness of the joints than those with osteoarthritis.

  • Treatment includes:

    • Exercise to help 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, which can occasionally be injected directly into a joint to relieve pain and swelling
    • Physiotherapy for exercises to stabilise the joint
    • Surgery to correct joint deformity or to replace a badly damaged joint
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