Hand pain can make it difficult for a person to accomplish things that would normally be no trouble. From opening a jar to using a pair of scissors, pain within the hand area can certainly get in the way of ordinary tasks. But how do you know if the pain in your hand is caused by arthritis?
Arthritis is an umbrella term that covers a range of conditions affecting the joints of the body. Arthritis can cause a particular joint to swell or be stiff, leading to pain and a decreased range of motion. The condition often becomes worse over time.
According to Bill Bailey, M.D. a specialist in rheumatology with Maury Regional Medical Group in Columbia, arthritis can occur at any age, but becomes more common as we age. Women are more likely to be affected by arthritis than men.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when we lose protective cartilage that serves as a cushion between bones at a joint. When the cartilage is reduced or gone completely, the individual can experience pain and stiffness in the joint. Osteoarthritis can be one of the causes of hand pain.
Signs that pain in the hand area may be caused by osteoarthritis include:
- Pain in the joints of the fingers or at the base of your thumb
- Stiffness in these joints
- Swelling or redness
- Loss of flexibility or decreased range of motion
When pain and other symptoms affect the hand or wrist area, a patient may be referred to a specialist in rheumatology, who can help determine if the cause is osteoarthritis or another type of arthritis. When a diagnosis is determined, the physician can recommend appropriate treatment.
“Treatments for osteoarthritis may include medication, injections in the joint, a device to help stabilize the hand or specialized hand therapy. These treatments can help the patient experience reduced pain, increased range of motion and a better quality of life,” said Dr. Bailey.
Because hand pain can be caused by a range of conditions – including carpal tunnel syndrome, lupus or gout – patients who are experiencing pain in the hand should consult with their primary care physician to determine if arthritis may be the cause.