The word arthritis means “joint inflammation”. Arthritis can be defined as anything that irritates or destroys the joint. Inflammation is one of our body’s natural reactions to injury or disease and if recurring or constant, can lead to tissue damage.
Arthritis in the hand is the second most common area to be affected, usually developed at the base of the thumb which is known as the basilar joint. When affected by arthritis, an area in or around the joint becomes inflamed, causing stiffness, pain and sometimes difficulty moving.
The Centre for Working Hands treats various arthritis conditions including degenerative arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Degenerative arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is the result of cartilage wearing out at the joints causing pain and eventually destroying the joint. The hand is the second most common joint to develop degenerative arthritis, usually at the base of the thumb, or basilar joint. Due to the wide range of motion and the shape of the bones, the basilar joint is the most likely area of the hand to develop arthritis. Women over 40 tend to have the highest rate of developing arthritis at the base of the thumb and chances are increased if a sprain or fracture has ever occurred in that area.
Degenerative arthritis is most evident when using your fingers and thumbs while performing everyday activities. You may notice pain when gripping or pinching that involve the thumb and fingers. This is one of the first signs of degenerative arthritis in the basilar joint. As the disease progresses, the joint begins to look bigger and possibly out of place. Your range of motion, or the full movement potential, may be reduced. The thumb may even start to stick out to the side and could later collapse at the second joint.
Local injections or oral pail medications can help curb the pain in the early stages of degenerative arthritis. A splint will help reduce movement of the affected joint and reduce the pain and swelling. More severe cases may require surgery. Your plastic surgeon at The Centre for Working Hands will discuss your best options with you.
Occasionally, therapy is required after surgery to regain better use of the hand. The rehabilitation center at The Centre for Working Hands is staffed by highly skilled, professionally trained therapists and board certified plastic surgeons who offer a variety of treatment options to ensure that our patients are able to return to their normal activities as quickly and comfortably as possible. To learn more about how you can benefit from our rehabilitation center, call or email our expert therapists at The Centre for Working Hands to schedule your evaluation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that can affect almost every organ in the body. It often attacks the tissues that line the joints and tendons, known as synovium. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but the disease affects at least one percent of the population. In a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, the tissue becomes swollen and covers the joints, destroying the bone and cartilage.
In the early stages of the disease, joint problems are the most common symptoms. Fatigue or exhaustion combined often occurs just before the slow start of joint pain and swelling. Morning stiffness is a frequent complaint in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. As the disease persists, symptoms may include swelling of different joints in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. The swelling usually takes place in the same joint on both sides of the body, known as symmetrical swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and often deformity. It can also affect other organs of the body such as the heart, liver, eyes, and lungs.
Generally, the first and most common symptom is a swelling of the knuckles that gives the fingers a spindle shape that is wider in the middle and tapered at the ends. This swelling often happens in the wrist and the large knuckles in the middle of the hand. The swollen tissue may destroy the ligaments that hold the joints together and damage cartilage and bone causing the joints to deform and shift out of place.
Rheumatoid arthritis is known to cause many problems. The swollen tissue may produce damage that causes the tendons to rupture. When the tendon ruptures, you may not be able to bend or straighten your finger. You may also experience swelling causing pressure on the nerves, or even rheumatoid nodules. Rheumatoid nodules are firm lumps located under the skin that affect twenty to thirty five percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid nodules are sometimes moveable, or they can be connected very firmly to the tendons or fascia beneath the skin.
Rheumatoid arthritis is usually treated with medication. A wide variety of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory, cortisone-like prescriptions are usually used. The specialized therapists and plastic surgeons at The Centre for Working Hands are able to provide information on learning how to live with the limitations caused by the disease – such as assistance with daily activities, splinting, and information on how to avoid damaging swollen joints.
Hand surgery may be considered if medical treatment is unsuccessful. The goals of hand surgery to treat rheumatoid arthritis are to reduce pain, improve function, and improve appearance of deformed joints. Surgical treatment might include removing the swollen tissue from the joints or around the tendons, which may reduce pain and prevent addition tendon damage. If the tendon has already been damaged, surgery may be performed to repair the damage. Your plastic surgeon may also remove rheumatoid nodules to improve appearance and comfort. To learn more about how you can benefit from our rehabilitation center, call or email our expert therapists at The Centre for Working Hands to schedule your evaluation.