Arthritis is a prevalent condition that affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide. While arthritis can impact various joints throughout the body, hand and wrist arthritis can be particularly bothersome given how frequently we use them in our daily lives. Today, we will explore the different types of arthritis, their symptoms, and how they can be alleviated with treatment.
Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis – This is the most common form of arthritis and occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. In the hands and wrists, osteoarthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that primarily targets the synovium which lines the joint cavity. The synovium is responsible for the production of synovial fluid, which is essential for lubricating the cartilage surfaces in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis in the hands can cause joint pain, swelling, redness, and limited range of motion.
Psoriatic Arthritis – Linked to the skin condition psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis can affect joints as well, causing inflammation and swelling. In the hands and wrists, it may lead to stiffness, pain, and difficulty moving the fingers.
Symptoms of Arthritis in the Hands & Wrists
Hand arthritis symptoms can vary in severity depending on the type and stage of the condition. The symptoms listed below are meant to help you consider if you may have arthritis however, we recommend seeing a physician to get a professional diagnosis before pursuing treatment.
Pain: Persistent pain, often described as aching or throbbing, is a hallmark symptom of hand arthritis.
Stiffness: Arthritis can cause stiffness in the hands and wrists, particularly in the morning or after long periods of inactivity. This stiffness may improve with movement.
Swelling: Inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, can result in swelling of the joints. This swelling may contribute to discomfort and reduced function.
Reduced Range of Motion: As arthritis progresses, the range of motion in the hands and wrists may diminish, making simple tasks like gripping objects or typing on a keyboard more challenging.
Hand Arthritis Treatment
Hand therapy is a valuable, non-invasive treatment option for managing arthritis in the hands and wrists. Here are some ways in which a hand therapy specialist can provide relief:
Exercise Programs: Therapists can guide you through hand exercises for arthritis. This personalized exercise program can help improve joint flexibility, strength, and overall function.
Hand Arthritis Treatments: Exercises & Therapy | Rehab United
Pain Management Strategies: Hand arthritis therapy incorporates various pain management techniques, such as heat and cold therapy, to reduce discomfort and inflammation in the affected joints.
Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques performed by hand therapy specialists, such as massage and mobilization, can help alleviate pain, reduce muscle tension, and improve joint mobility.
Taking Back Control
Living with arthritis in the hands and wrists can be challenging, but hand therapy offers a proactive approach to managing the condition. Through customized exercise regimens, joint protection strategies, and pain management techniques, therapists help individuals with arthritis to enjoy an improved quality of life. If you or someone you know is struggling with arthritis in the hands and wrists, consider consulting with a specialized therapist at Rehab United to explore our tailored solutions for hand arthritis treatment!
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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Rehab United. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.
Medically Reviewed By: Arturo Valle, PT, DPT, FAFS, CSCS, STMT-1, BFR-1, CCI, is a Physical Therapist, Clinic Director of Rehab United in Escondido, and Director of Rehab United’s Quality Assurance Program. As a graduate of USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Dr. Valle has always emphasized the implementation of Evidence-Based Practice into all plans of care. Throughout his 12 years of experience, Dr. Valle has treated thousands of orthopedic-related and sports injuries and mentored countless Physical Therapists and Students of Physical Therapy.