Arthritis is a disease that results in degeneration of the joints. There are mainly two types of arthritis. They are: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The former affects the cartilage present in the joints of the hands, while the latter often affects the muscles, tendons, various tissues as well as the cartilages. Osteoarthritis is mostly found in the elderly as it is caused due to degeneration of the joints with aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease and can affect people of any age group. Women are more prone to this condition compared to men.
Arthritis can be found in the wrist joints, thumb joints, and the finger joints. The main symptoms of this disorder are as follows:
This is one of the earliest symptoms of arthritis. The characteristic of hand arthritis pain is that it is a constant dull pain with a burning sensation that continues to bother the patients. This pain intensifies when the hand is overused by activities like lifting of heavy weight, typing, writing, knitting, etc. The pain usually tends to worsen in humid or rainy weather. When the pain turns severe, it can disrupt the patient's sleep. However, when the hand is given some rest, the joint pain tends to subside.
Swelling of the Joint
When the joint pain continues for a long time and the patient does not reduce the stress on hands, then it can result in swelling of the joint. This way our body tries to give out the signal to stop further use of the affected hand. This occurs when the underlying tissues are damaged by arthritis.
The wrist joints as well as the finger joints become stiff due to persistent pain and swelling. It becomes noticeable when the patient experiences extreme pain while doing activities like opening a lock or lid of a container. The stiffness can lead to reddening of the joint, and it becomes warm and tender to touch. Many people ignore these symptoms as it can happen due to various other causes. Stiffness of joints due to arthritis is mostly felt in the morning time and cold weather conditions.
The deformity of finger joints due to hand arthritis is often referred to as Heberden's node. In this condition, the shape and size of the top of the arthritic fingers changes because of constant swelling. One may also feel that the joint has loosened up.
Other symptoms include a sensation of grinding or cracking of the joints during movements, loss of strength in the joints, loss of joint function, and decrease in joint mobility. It occurs due to damage caused to the cartilages. Formation of cysts in the end joints of the finger can also result from hand arthritis.
Although there is no complete cure for this condition, one can manage the symptoms with the help of painkillers, pain relieving ointments, and corticosteroid injections. However, these medicines, when used for a long time can give a number of adverse side effects.
Therefore, following home remedies can be used to alleviate the symptoms:
- Application of heating pads can help reduce the pain in the hands. Another remedy is to soak the hands in warm water mixed with Epsom salt. The medicinal properties of Epsom salt can help reduce the swelling.
- Cold compression can also be used to get rid of the symptoms of the condition. Do not apply the ice directly on the affected joint. Rather, take some ice cubes and wrap them in a towel, and apply it over the painful hands for not more than 15 minutes. Then, take a break for half an hour and apply it again.
- Hand stretching exercises is the simplest method of relieving the pain and stiffness of the joints. They make the joints flexible and add strength to the muscles, and thus, mobility of the hands is restored. You can talk to a physical therapist in this regard. Activities like light gardening and housecleaning can also act as stretching exercises for the hand joints.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.