Hand arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that can affect any of the joints of the body. It tends to develop slowly, causing small, subtle changes over a period of time. Due to the slow nature of its onset and progression, people often don’t start to notice any symptoms until they become more obvious or long-lasting.

Arthritis in the hand can cause pain, a loss of grip, stiffness in the fingers and sometimes seizing up of a finger joint. All of these can be incredibly frustrating to manage, especially when they become more frequent or severe as the arthritis progresses.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, an expert assessment will be helpful. Your symptoms may have another cause, but an expert assessment can help to give you peace of mind. It’s easy to book a consultation with me here at Circle.

A joint is formed in the body wherever bones need to move around or over one another. The hand and wrist contain a number of joints and it is these joints that provide our hands with such remarkable dexterity and function. It is also these joints that can cause such debilitating problems in people suffering from arthritis in the hand.

Most of us use our hands every day without conscious thought. We pick up a cup of tea, wash our faces, tie our shoelaces without noticing just how much are hands are involved in carrying our such common tasks. Arthritis in the hand, especially as it progresses, can have a big impact on our quality of life and our ability to do things. Even a simple task such as opening a jar can become incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

There are a number of different types of arthritis. The two that I see most commonly in the hand are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. In the hand, this can cause the finger joints to become visibly swollen and disfigured or misshapen. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the hand. Each of the bones in our hand and wrist have a smooth lining of cartilage at their ends, known as articular cartilage. This cartilage helps the bones to move over one another freely. Osteoarthritis causes areas of this cartilage to thin. This means that the bones start to rub against one another when they move. Over time, this causes damage to the joint, leading to the pain, stiffness and swelling associated with osteoarthritis.

When we first meet, I will talk with you about your symptoms and how your life is being affected by them.

I will examine your hands and wrists to assess the extent of any arthritis. I may also arrange for you to have additional tests to help confirm diagnosis, ranging from a simple blood test or X-ray through to an MRI, CT or ultrasound scan.

Once we have an accurate idea of the presence and extent of arthritis, we will be able to talk through treatment options together.

It’s important to say that there is currently no cure for arthritis. There are however a number of treatments I can offer to help manage your hand arthritis. Often, conservative (non-surgical) treatment options can be really helpful in keeping symptoms like pain under control. In more severe cases, I may advise you to have surgery to effectively treat the problem.

I will always talk with you fully about any treatment options that would be suitable for you, but the decision to have any treatment is always yours to make.

Conservative treatment options include pain medication, physiotherapy, splinting and corticosteroid injections. All of these can be helpful in the right circumstances and certainly, a treatment plan should start with one of these.

Where these non-surgical treatments have stopped working as well, or when pain or stiffness in the joint has increased significantly, hand surgery may be needed to relieve your symptoms. There are a few of surgical options available, ranging from operations to preserve movement in the joints to ones that fix joints permanently in place. The type of operation carried out will depend on the extent and severity of your arthritis.

As a consultant who specialises exclusively in problems of the hand and wrist, I have seen the frustrations, challenges and pain caused by arthritis in the hand. It is, however, a condition that most of us will almost certainly experience to a certain extent in our lives.

Good, effective treatment is available that can help manage your symptoms. If you’d like to discuss treatment options, why not book a consultation with me here at Circle? With no waiting lists, you’ll be able to see me at a time most convenient to you. 

Fast track your treatment with Erman Melikyan

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Fast track your treatment

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020 3613 6779

Circle Reading Hospital, 100 Drake Way, Reading, RG2 0NE

Good

Overall rating 24th October 2019