The hand and wrist have several small joints that work together to help you get by – you use them to type, write, tie a shoelace, and grab shopping bags. However, untreated arthritis can lead to difficulty. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) has pointed out that inflammation is the common denominator of arthritis. In healthy joints, a smooth, slippery tissue called cartilage covers the ends of the bones.
This provides a sliding surface for the joint, which is lubricated by an oil-like fluid.
However, when arthritis develops (especially osteoarthritis), the cartilage wears down.
As the disease progresses, symptoms begin to appear. For example, in the hands, one of the first indicators is a “dull” pain.
“Pain often occurs after periods of increased use of the joints, such as heavy gripping or grabbing,” AAOS said.
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The AAOS explained that as the cartilage wears down, there is “less material to absorb shock,” and so symptoms will appear more frequently.
Arthritis pain can be made worse by activity, which is hard not to do when your hands are helping so much in everyday life.
Even opening a jar or turning the key to get inside can cause a stab of pain.
For some people, the joints can be even more painful in rainy weather.
Joints can even loosen in the advanced stages of arthritis, which means the joint becomes deformed.
This can lead to a pronounced gnarly appearance along the fingers and small cysts can develop.
A doctor can diagnose arthritis of the hand by taking an eye and arranging an x-ray.
Sometimes a bone scan can be helpful, which can identify arthritis in the early stages, even when it doesn’t show up on an x-ray.