Hand joints are the most fragile part of human body in respect of injuries and diseases, because you constantly perform many actions and movements with your hands. Moreovere, there are many professions that require a constant load on hands and fingers. If at a young age such activity usually does not cause troubles, by the age of 50 any physical exercise can lead to problems with your fingers. You may have pain in hands and fingers, swelling, loss of mobility of your finger joints and sometimes even joint deformation. All these signs are symptoms of arthritis in hands and mean that you have an inflammatory disease of the joints. However, not only the excessive load on your fingers can be the reason for arthritis. Some more causes can provoke hand arthritis. So if you are a couch potato, do not think that you are safe from arthritis in hands.
Arthritis is an inflammation of joints. Any joint in your body can become inflamed, but the most common is arthritis of finger joints. Inflammation of these joints occurs more often than their degenerative destruction and this inflammation is a common reason for loss of professional and domestic skills with further disability.
Basicaly, arthritis is an inflammation of the synovial membrane of your joints. This membrane normally secretes synovial fluid, which acts as a joint lubricant. Through this fluid articular cartilage receives nutrients.
Arthritis leads to increase of amount of synovial fluid, malitious changes in its composition and to formation of a pathological exudate. According to the fluid type exudate can be serous, purulent or hemorrhagic (bloody). Ultimately, articular cartilage suffers from accumulation of pathological excudate.
Forms of Arthritis in Hands
Arthritis can affect any joints, but most commonly an inflammation occurs to small wrist or finger joints. There are two types of arthritis in hands:
- Acute wrist arthritis. It is characterized by swelling, pain and skin redness above the joints, sometimes fever;
- Chronic arthritis. This form is asymptomatic and has a very slow beginning. It is expressed with irregular weak pain in arm joints.
Signs of Arthritis in Hands
The first signs of arthritis in wrist and thumb are pain in hand joints and swelling in this area. In its chronic form arthritis can manifest itself with painful sensation in hand joints when your hands get in contact with cold water or freeze when you are outdoors without gloves, etc. More severe symptoms of finger arthritis are their morning stiffness, creaking in the joints and subcutaneous nodules on your hands. Without timely proper treating arthritis leads to complete deformation of your joints and loss of mobility of your fingers. Hands with severe form of arthritis look terribly and cause many pain to their owner.
Early signs of arthritis in hands have their own characteristics in people of different ages and as a rule depend on a particular form of the disease.
If you have gout, arthritis occurs rapidly, with severe pain, redness and local fever on your thumb. Although gout in most cases affects big toes, thumb gout pathology has become widespread nowadays.
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by stiffness in the morning and after a long rest, while septic arthritis occurs on the background of the serious health condition of a patient with the affection of almost all his or her organs and body systems.
Children and young patients tend to have more florid symptoms than elderly arthritis patients.
Arthritis of fingers can affect different number of joints. Usually hand arthritis involves simultaneous inflammation of several symmetrical joints (polyarthritis), although rather common is monoarthritis, when only one joint becomes inflamed.
Causes of Arthritis in Hands
Apart from psysical loads and low tempereatures there are some more reasons for the emergence of arthritis in hands. One of the most common is infection penetration. Chronic infectious diseases provoke rheumatoid arthritis in hands more often than, for example, frequent excessive exercise. Usually infection penetrates joints through your bloodstream. The risk group includes patients with influenza, tuberculosis, dysentery, scarlet fever, syphilis, gonorrhea and similar diseases.
The following factors can also lead to hand arthritis:
- weak immunity;
- injuries, traumea, surgery on hands;
- immune disorders;
- hereditary predisposition;
- excessive weight.
The last factor disturbes your immune and metabolic processes, which, in their turn, contribute to the development of vascular diseases. They cause damage of small blood vessels on your hands, lead to circulatory disorders, inflammation and finaly result in arthritis.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis in Hands
One of the main conditions for effective treatment for arthritis in hands is a competent diagnosing of the disease. It is based on laboratory studies of the internal content of the joint capsule known as synovial fluid. This allows you to diagnose infectious or non-infectious nature of the disease. According to this parametre your doctor will prescribe the necessary treatment.
How to treat arthritis in hands? Arthritis needs hospital treatment under permanent supervision of a rheumatologists. The process of treatment includes medication and a number of therapeutic and preventive measures. The aim of arthritis therapy is to restore the metabolism in the cartilage, preventing its further degeneration.
To reduce inflammation and relieve pain your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine. Apart from drugs a specialist can suggest the following options:
- Hand excersices for arthritis, usually combined with attending a swimming pool;
- Heating. To cure arthritis of hands, modern doctors use UFO, laser and infrared irradiation;
- Magnetic therapy. With the help of static magnetic field rheumathologists can influence your hands, widen your blood vessels, reduce blood viscosity and in this way provide adequate nourishment of hand tissues. In addition, magnetic therapy helps to ease pain and remove swelling from your hands;
- Electrophoresis (usually combined with drugs). Current helps a medical remedy to penetrate deeper into the arthritic area;
- Therapeutic diet. It can help with quicker elimination of all unpleasant symptoms of arthritis. Doctors recommend to exclude starchy and fatty food, salty and fried products from you diet. You should eat more dairy products, fruits and vegetables, foods rich in antioxidants and vitamin E;
- An operation with further implantation of a prosthesis to replace the affected joint;
- Arthrodesis is used when distal and proximal interphalangeal joints are inflammed. The purpose of this surgery is pain relief. The doctors allow the bones participating in the formation of the affected joint to grow together into one bone unit. Despite the popularity of joint prosthesis, arthritis of hands is often treated with arthrodesis.
Most often arthritis is cured by nonsteroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They affect the course of some enzymatic reactions and thus inhibit and stop inflammation. These agents also have the analgesic effect. Your doctor will choose the best pain reliever for you. However, NSAIDs can adversely affect the gastrointestinal tract and blood coagulation.
Doctors use steroidal hormones for the treatment of arthritis, injecting them into a joint cavity. If there is any exudate, it should be removed in the course of treatment and only then it is possible to use hormones that have anti-inflammatory effect.
Also doctors can inject antibiotics in the articular cavity. They are usually used for the treatment of infectious arthritis. If you have septic arthritis, your doctor most likely will carry out a complex treatment with intravenous administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Arthritis inevitably damages articular cartilage. To restore it doctors use chondroprotectors that improve metabolic processes in the cartilageous tissue. Such a treatment can take a long time.
After the acute phase of arthritis, when the inflammation subsides you can pass on to massage and physiotherapy.
Arthritis therapy can be conducted at home with herbal decoctions, tinctures, salves from honey and propolis. But remember, home treatment with natural remedies is just a supplement to conventional therapy.