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Roughly 32.5 million U.S. adults are impacted by osteoarthritis in their hands, making it a common form of arthritis. And if left unchecked, occasional achiness and stiffness can pave the way for decreased range of motion, loss of function, and the inability to perform daily tasks most of us take for granted.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Numerous causes, including genetic, mechanical, hormonal, and inflammatory ones, are linked to osteoarthritis. It is not merely an aging-related or “older people’s” sickness.
What Are Osteoarthritis Symptoms?
Naturally, it can be frustrating when joint pain slows you down. But osteoarthritis symptoms come in different forms and shouldn’t be ignored. Mild swelling and stiffness in the end joints of your hands are telltale signs that something is wrong. Clicking or cracking sounds are a sign that the bones in your fingers are rubbing together. It’s also not uncommon for patients to experience osteoarthritis symptoms on one side of the body, such as the left hand rather than the right hand (or vice versa).
MAIN SYMPTOMS OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
problems moving the joint
joint pain and stiffness
grating or crackling sound when moving affected joints
tenderness and swelling
Your hand’s three primary areas are frequently affected by osteoarthritis:
- fingertips’ closest joints
- thumb’s base
- finger joints in the middle
In some circumstances, you might also have a lump where your thumb meets your wrist at the base. This can hurt, and you could find it challenging to use your hands to write, open jars, or turn keys.
What Increases the Risk for Osteoarthritis?
The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown. According to studies, several factors raise your risk of developing osteoarthritis. These include:
- prior injury to the joint, joint overuse after an injury or operation without proper healing time
- increasing age
- being overweight or obese puts excess strain on your joints
- joints severely damaged by a previous or existing condition
- genetics, as osteoarthritis may run in families, although no single gene has been identified as responsible
- women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men
- repetitive movements associated with an occupation
How Are Osteoarthritis Symptoms Treated?
While there isn’t a way to reverse joint damage, many patients treated can lead normal, pain-free lives with the right treatment plan. Osteoarthritis treatment generally consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and inflammation. Physical therapy, joint strengthening exercises, diet, weight loss, and maintaining an active lifestyle can also slow the progression of the disease. For more stubborn cases, steroid injections can sometimes provide relief.
Many osteoarthritis cases don’t require surgery. Surgery may be an option, though, if all non-surgical therapy options have failed and you are still dealing with severe pain and functional loss. Total joint replacement surgery is the most popular procedure for osteoarthritis. Even if surgery is needed, the process is done with expert precision, and patients go on to lead normal lives.
Patient Stories* of Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Jason is the type of guy who really puts his hands to good use as both a musician and woodworker. And these are not just hobbies, either. It’s a big part of his livelihood. But over time, John began experiencing arthritic changes in both hands. After dealing with chronic pain for longer than he admits he should have, John visited our practice. We confirmed that his osteoarthritis was treatable without the need for surgery. The positive effects of a more conservative approach were immediate, and he’s been able to continue with his life passions.
Thomas was suffering from severe and chronic pain in both his left and right thumb and carpal areas. X-rays and a comprehensive nerve analysis found arthritis and bone spurs on his left and right scaphoid bone at the inner base between the thumb and wrist. The only option for full relief was to remove the scaphoid bone. The surgical procedure went off without a hitch. With a few months of recovery and physical therapy sessions, Thomas recovered nicely. He now has very good use of his entire hand and wrist with little to no scarring.
Lisa had surgery on her left hand eight years ago but recently needed a more serious surgery and came back to us for guidance. From the second she walked in the door, we helped her to feel relaxed and answered every question. She says she felt extremely grateful for having the surgery, and today she can enjoy daily activities pain-free.
Osteoarthritis: What’s the Bottom Line?
When it comes to joint pain, most people today don’t think about osteoarthritis as a possible cause. So, they continue living their life with hopes that things will get better. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis will worsen if not treated by a team of professional orthopedic doctors and surgeons. Some people may not want to consider having surgery, but the techniques used today promote faster healing and can be a solution for osteoarthritis symptoms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(Left to right): Dr. Bryan Reyes, Dr. Eric Wroton, and Dr. Ryan Reardon are top orthopedic surgeons at Fort Worth Hand Center. From the fingertips to the elbow, these physicians treat everything from sports injuries and joint replacement to chronic conditions, age-related complications, degenerative diseases, and trauma. Whether the hand, finger, wrist, or elbow condition requires traditional surgery or non-surgical techniques, these expert doctors will thoroughly explain all your options and get you back to your favorite life activities.
Fort Worth Hand Center has served the North Texas area for over 45 years, making them Fort Worth’s most experienced hand surgeon practice. The team is comprised of a dedicated staff whose mission is to provide prompt, courteous, and compassionate care to valued patients. Their patient-centered approach gives every individual a pleasant experience with each visit, while providing the expert care patients deserve. This is evident in their 5-star reviews.
To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 817-839-3023 or visit FortWorthHandCenter.com.
Disclosure: Patient stories are real. Names and/or photos may be changed to protect patient confidentiality. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or if you have questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider. 50Plus-Today seeks to share opinions from a wide variety of professionals in an unbiased manner: it is the responsibility of the consumer to educate themselves and make their own health care decisions.
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