Arthritis in Hands

Arthritis in Hands

Inflammation in the joints of the hands, which is scientifically known as arthritis, is a painful condition that severely affects the functioning of the wrists and fingers. Leaf through this HealthHearty article to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for the same.
HealthHearty Staff
Arthritis can be described as a condition, in which, acute or chronic inflammation occurs in the body joints and the nearby tissues of these areas. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and so on. This condition can affect any part of the body, like, the knee joint, wrist joint, knuckles, etc. When this disease occurs in hands, it severely affects the wrist and the finger joints.
Causes
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two of the most common forms of this condition occurring in hands. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that results from deterioration of joint ligaments and cartilage. This is mostly found in elderly people, whose joints get worn out due to the natural process of wear and tear over a long period. People may encounter this disease at an early age, if the ligaments and cartilages of the hand joints wear out due to some traumatic injury, excessive use of the joint, or some kind of joint infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease that destroys the bones and soft tissues of the joints. Initially, it attacks the peripheral joints and leads to inflammation of joints in the hands and feet. Gradually, it starts affecting all other joints in the body. The exact cause of this autoimmune inflammation is not clearly known, however, it is strongly believed that it could be triggered by genetic factors. Women in their childbearing age are more susceptible to this disease. Research studies have found that increase in body weight and the growing size of uterus puts an additional amount of pressure on the joints causing inflammation. In some rare cases, underlying disease, like, growth of a cyst on the hand can cause severe damage to the structure of the joint resulting in arthritis.
Symptoms
The most prevalent symptom is pain, which is mainly confined to the wrist joint, finger joint, and the adjoining areas. Some patients complain about constant pain that refuses to go. Others experience it intermittently. It tends to intensify with the use of hands and decreases when the hand is at rest. The typical characteristic of this particular joint pain is that, it is accompanied by swelling and stiffness. The severity of swelling varies from one person to another. When there is excessive joint swelling, the skin turns red and tenderness can be felt, when you touch the area. Gradually, the wrist and finger movements get restricted. In case the symptoms intensify, the fingers tend to become weak and may even get deformed. As a result, one loses the ability to grip or hold objects.
Treatment
The condition is diagnosed with the help of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests, like, x-rays, blood test, etc. Initially, pain relieving medicines and anti-inflammatory medicines are given to provide temporary relief from the pain. Sometimes, topical creams or ointments are also given for pain management. If these medicines fail to improve the condition, then cortisone injections are administered to reduce joint pain. In some cases, splints are also recommended, as they provide adequate protection and support to the affected hand. Physical therapy has been found to be highly beneficial for the treatment. The therapist suggests some hand exercises that strengthen the muscles and improve their flexibility. Thus the mobility of arthritic fingers and wrist joints is restored. When a joint is severely damaged and deformity occurs, surgical method is availed. There are various surgical techniques used for this purpose, wherein, the damaged portion of the arthritic joint is surgically removed.
Home Remedies
Here are a few helpful home remedies that you can try out to bring down pain and inflammation of the hands:
Hot Compress
If you are looking for a soothing relief from persistent arthritic pain, apply heat with the help of a heating pad to the affected area.
Cold Compress
In case, there is swelling and burning pain in the joint, cold compress is more effective. However, do not use ice on swollen hands and fingers for more than 15 minutes.
Alfalfa
This is one of the most popular herbs for the treatment of swollen, stiff hands, with inflamed joints. Prepare a herbal tea by boiling 1 teaspoon of alfalfa seeds in 1 cup of water. Have this tea 3 or 4 times in a day for at least two weeks.
Diet
When you are suffering from the above condition, you have to select the right kind of foods. Your diet should include plenty of fatty fish, fish oils like cod liver oil, walnuts, avocado, and other foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Banana is a good source of vitamin B6, which is essential for treating arthritis and should be included in the diet.
Unfortunately, the condition of the hands cannot be cured completely. However, if the symptoms are diagnosed at an early stage, then, with the help of proper treatment and therapies any further damage to the joints can be prevented, and one can lead a quality life.