Arthritis is a disease that attacks joint tissues. It can attack the smooth covering at the ends of your bones or the cartilage and cause it to break down. This exposes the ends of the bones, causing them to rub against each other and wear away. Since your hands have joints at the wrists and fingers, arthritis targets them, causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and eventually, loss of function and deformity.
The saddest thing about arthritis is that preventing it from infecting your hands is impossible. However, you can reduce the risk and manage it via treatment, including surgery and other treatment methods.
Many different types of arthritis affect the hands. Check out these common ones:
Also referred to as “wear and tear” or degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis affects the hands more often than all other types of arthritis. It’s known for causing the breakdown and wearing away of the cartilage. This means the ends of bones are bound to rub each other without protection, causing pain, stiffness and loss of function with time.
Osteoarthritis typically attacks parts of your hands such as your wrist, thumb base joint, and your fingers’ middle and top joints. When the disease goes on untreated for a long time, it can lead to the formation of bony lumps in your finger joints.
This form of arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the hands, causing the joint lining (synovium) to swell, become painful, stiff, and eventually lose function if left untreated.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that your body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues.
Your synovium produces the fluid that eases the sliding of the cartilage against each other. With time, the inflammation destroys the cartilage, eroding the bone itself.
When this happens, the shape of the bones and alignment gets destroyed and weakens and stretches the tendons and ligaments surrounding the bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks your wrists’ small joints, hands and fingers.
Psoriatic arthritis is another common form of the disease known for attacking the joints of your hands and skin (psoriasis). It causes joint pain, swelling and stiffness in the mornings. It’s more or less like rheumatoid arthritis but may only attack a couple of your fingers.
Are there certain parts of the hand that arthritis attacks the most?
Yes, here are 4 parts of the hands commonly attacked by arthritis:
1. Your knuckles.
2. The joint of the base of your thumb meets your wrist.
3. Your fingers’ middle joints.
4. Your fingers’ top joints closest to your nails.
Who has the highest risk of getting arthritis of the hand?
You’re more likely to develop any of the above types of arthritis in your hands if:
· You’re an older person above 50 years of age for osteoarthritis and from the ages of 35 and 50 for rheumatoid arthritis.
· You’re overweight.
· You’re a woman.
· You’re white.
· You had had hand injuries that resulted in hand bone or finger dislocation or breakage.
Seeing a doctor once you begin experiencing symptoms of all forms of arthritis, including those of the hand, is the best way to get ahead of the disease. Arthritis generally doesn’t discriminate when it strikes. According to estimations from the Arthritis Foundation, 78 million people will have arthritis by the year 2040. What a shocking figure this is! So, ensure that you know and understand the dangers, causes and symptoms of all types of arthritis as in my next post.