What are the Symptoms of Arthritis in the Hands?

Arthritis in the hands can manifest with various symptoms that affect the joints, making everyday activities challenging. Common symptoms of hand arthritis include:

  • Joint Pain: Pain is a hallmark symptom of hand arthritis. It often occurs when using the affected hand for activities like gripping, grasping, or twisting objects. The pain may be dull, aching, or sharp.
  • Stiffness: Hand arthritis can cause stiffness in the affected joints, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity. This can make it difficult to move the fingers and hand freely.
  • Swelling: Inflamed joints can result in swelling in the hands. Swelling may vary in severity and can be accompanied by warmth and redness around the affected joints.
  • Decreased Range of Motion: Arthritic changes in the hand joints can limit the range of motion. You may find it challenging to fully extend or flex your fingers and thumb.
  • Bony Nodules: Osteoarthritis, a common type of hand arthritis, can lead to the formation of bony nodules at the joint sites, known as Heberden’s and Bouchard’s nodes. These can be visible and may cause additional discomfort.
  • Weakness: Muscle weakness can develop due to arthritis-related pain and limitations in joint movement. This can affect grip strength and dexterity.
  • Tingling or Numbness: In some cases, arthritis in the hands can compress nearby nerves, leading to sensations of tingling or numbness in the fingers.
  • Fatigue: Constant pain and discomfort in the hands can lead to hand fatigue, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

It’s important to note that symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis. The two most common types of hand arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is often associated with wear and tear on the joints and tends to affect older individuals. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can affect the hands and other joints and often presents with more symmetrical joint involvement and systemic symptoms.

If you experience persistent hand pain, stiffness, or swelling, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as a rheumatologist or orthopedic specialist. Early diagnosis and appropriate management can help alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with hand arthritis. Treatment options may include medications, physical therapy, splints, or, in some cases, surgery to repair or replace affected joints.