Hand Arthritis: Early Signs, Pain Relief, And How To Manage

Posted by MVMT Team

Our hands are the most flexible parts of our body because of the number of joints. They are also primarily made of cartilage. Both qualities allow our hands to bend, twist and turn in almost any direction. However, this also makes our hands vulnerable to osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints. The cartilage that connects the bones has worn out which causes bones to directly rub each other when the hand moves. Osteoarthritis usually occurs in three parts: the base of the thumb, which connects the latter to the wrist joint, the joint of the hand that is closest to the fingertip, and the joint at the middle of the finger.


Without cartilage to prevent or cushion the bone, you feel pain and may also hamper hand movement.

Early Signs of Arthritis in Hand

A physician may order a physical exam to be conducted, specifically focusing on your hands. Other tests that may be conducted to confirm arthritis in hand are X-rays and bone scans. At times, a bone scan can detect osteoarthritis earlier than if done with an X-ray.

hand arthritis

Some of the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis occurring in the hand are the following:

  1.    Crepitus – Since there is little to no more cartilage, as the joints rub together there will be grinding, cracking and clicking sensations.
  2.    Nodules – Also called Bouchard’s nodes or Heberden’s nodes.  The loss of cartilage created blank spaces allowing bone to grow. This will result in bulky fingers and knuckles.
  3.    Hand pain and stiffness – People with hands suffering from osteoarthritis experience pain and stiffness in the affected hand particularly the wrist, thumb and the knuckles.
  4.    Hand weakness – Arthritis in hand can cause weakness and difficulty in gripping and holding tight to objects, like opening a jar of peanut butter.

Pain Management and Relief

Osteoarthritis in the hand, once it has set in, is a lifelong condition. Thus, there is no cure. However, there are ways to manage it, which includes:

  1.    Hand exercises to strengthen and condition the joints on your hand. Consult a physiotherapist or hand therapist regarding specific therapeutic exercises.
  2.    Hot and cold compresses can be applied on the affected hand/s to relax and promote circulation to the joints that suffer from osteoarthritis.
  3.    Change in diet can reduce the effects of osteoarthritis as well. Dark colored fruits like grapes, apples, berries, and citrus fruits as well as vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens should be included in the diet.
  4.    Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to relieve the pain and swelling. There are also injectable drugs which have quicker effects in calming the joint inflammation.

You do not need to suffer the pain of arthritis in hand. Give us a call today and find out how MVMT Physio & Chiro can help you manage your osteoarthritis for the better.

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