Finger arthritis – Don’t let your hands die!

Finger arthritis is more common than you think. After all, there are 27 bones in each one of your hands and where there are bones, there are joints.

Where there are joints, there will be cartilage. When the cartilage wears away, there is inflammation accompanied by pain. This is when arthritis occurs.

Finger arthritis is a serious source of discomfort for many people because we are highly dependent on our fingers for our daily routine.

  • Causes of finger arthritis:
    • Osteoarthritis – Also called wear-and-tear arthritis, this is a condition that develops with age. In this condition, the cartilage wears away, making bones rub against each other.

      The knuckles of the middle finger, the joints at the fingertip and the joints located at the base of the thumbs are most vulnerable to arthritis caused by age.

    • Rheumatoid arthritis: In this kind of arthritis, the soft tissue around the joints wears away. The knuckles and the joints at the base of the finger are most affected.

    • Psoriatic arthritis: This is a relatively rare condition. The joints close to the nails are affected. This condition changes the way the nail appears.

      For instance, it leads to yellowing, ridging, thickening and pitting in the nails. This form of arthritis is mostly seen in men.

    • Injury: A previous injury in the fingers, like a sprain or a fracture, could alter the alignment of the joints. This in turn affects the way in which the joints move.

      In the long term, such misalignment and irregularities damage the cartilage and lead to inflammation and pain. Even repetitive activities like text messaging, typing, knitting, sewing and playing video games lead to injury, which ultimately become arthritic.

  • Treatments for finger arthritis:
  • In the beginning stages, treatment methods aim to reduce pain and inflammation, so as to help patients manage their condition effectively. This may be accomplished through:

    • NSAIDs: These are anti-inflammatory medications that reduce pain and inflammation.

    • Hand therapy: Helps patients maintain motion in their hands and prevent stiffening of joints.

    • Heat and cold treatments: These treatments relieve pain and increase flexibility as well as mobility.

    • Splints: In some cases, patients are advised to wear splints to rest the affected joints. This treatment must be carried out for short periods only and offer only limited relief.

    • If none of the above treatments is successful in relieving pain caused by finger arthritis, surgery may be needed. Surgery is aimed at removing bone spurs and fusing or replacing joints.

  • New finding:
  • Interestingly, a new study that was reported in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases (February, 2003) suggests that men who suffered from osteoarthritis in a single finger joint had a high likelihood of dying from some form of cardiovascular disease.

    However, men who suffered from symmetrical finger arthritis were not exposed to this risk. In women, the risk was significantly lesser.

    The reason for this link between arthritis and cardiovascular disease was not clear. So, if you suffer from this condition, this is one more reason to visit a doctor immediately!


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