Synergy Health Partners

Hand Arhritis

Definition: Hand arthritis involves inflammation and degeneration of the joints in the hand, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced function. The most common types of arthritis affecting the hand are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


  1. Osteoarthritis: Degenerative joint disease caused by the wear and tear of cartilage, commonly affecting the base of the thumb, the end joints of the fingers, and the middle joints of the fingers.
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: An autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the synovium (lining of the membranes that surround the joints), leading to inflammation and joint damage.


  • Age: Increased risk as cartilage wears down over time.
  • Genetics: Family history of arthritis.
  • Injury: Previous joint injuries can predispose to arthritis.
  • Repetitive Use: Activities that put repetitive stress on the hand joints.
  • Autoimmune Factors: In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks joint tissues.


  • Pain and tenderness in the joints of the hand
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity
  • Swelling and inflammation around the joints
  • Reduced range of motion and difficulty in gripping or pinching objects
  • Bony growths or nodules at the joints (in osteoarthritis)
  • Deformities such as ulnar deviation (fingers leaning toward the little finger) in rheumatoid arthritis


  • Physical Examination: Assessing pain, swelling, deformities, and range of motion.
  • Imaging Tests: X-rays to show joint damage and bone changes; MRI or ultrasound for detailed images of soft tissues.
  • Blood Tests: To identify markers of rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory conditions.


  • Medications: Pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to maintain joint flexibility and strengthen the muscles around the joints.
  • Occupational Therapy: Techniques and devices to help with daily activities and reduce stress on the joints.
  • Splints and Braces: To support and stabilize the affected joints, particularly during activities.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, procedures such as joint fusion (arthrodesis), joint replacement (arthroplasty), or removal of damaged tissue (synovectomy) may be necessary.

Prognosis: While there is no cure for hand arthritis, many individuals can manage their symptoms effectively with a combination of treatments. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for slowing disease progression and maintaining hand function. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adherence to treatment plans can significantly improve quality of life for those with hand arthritis.