Arthritis of the hand occurs when the cartilage between the joints wears away or is damaged and the bones no longer have a smooth surface for movement.
Hand arthritis can come from both disease and injury. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are diseases in which the cartilage is gradually reduced over time. Traumatic injuries like broken bones and dislocations can also lead to arthritis, even if the injury is properly treated. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness or looseness in the joint.
Marshfield Clinic has bone and joint specialists trained specifically for the treatment of arthritis of the hands.
Treatments for arthritis depend on the severity of the disease or injury. Your Marshfield Clinic physician will identify a treatment plan based on your individual needs including:
Anti-inflammatory medications are a common option for controlling joint pain and swelling.
Anesthetic and steroidal injections can provide longer-term pain relief. However, in rare cases, they can produce some side effects like infections or weakening of the joints. Your physician will consult you on whether an injection would be a worthwhile treatment option.
A splint can be used to provide support for the affected joint and still allow for some use of the hand. The use of a splint is often combined with a course of injections for pain relief.
Joint replacement surgery - if the damage cannot be addressed with non-surgical means, your physician may recommend joint-replacement surgery to correct the affected area. Replacement joints made of ceramic, metal or plastic parts can bring long-term functional movement back to nearly any joint of the hand and wrist. Your physician will discuss whether joint replacement is the right option for you.