Arthritis of the Hand and Wrist

Arthritis is a general term used to describe inflamed or damaged joints. The most common type of arthritis to affect the hand and wrist is osteoarthritis (also called degenerative arthritis). Other common types of arthritis include inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, and post traumatic arthritis, which occurs secondary to a past injury to the area.

The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain (especially with activities, such as grasping or pinching), swelling, and stiffness. With progression of the disease, deformity and significant limitation of motion may develop. The diagnosis is made by careful evaluation and radiological examination. For inflammatory arthritis, blood tests may also be necessary.

Osteoarthritis typically involves the basilar joint of the thumb and the small joints of the fingers. It usually begins after age 40 and becomes more prevalent with advanced age. Conservative treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, vitamins (glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), splints, therapy, and cortisone injections. Surgery, if necessary, includes joint arthroplasties and fusions.

Rheumatoid arthritis is more complex and variable. There are many new medical treatments useful in controlling progression of the disease. Surgical treatment is geared toward correcting severe deformities and improving function through joint replacement arthroplasties, joint fusions, and other soft tissue reconstructions.

At Central Jersey Hand Surgery, almost all surgeries for arthritis can be performed on an outpatient basis. We endeavor to focus on each individual's age, activity level, and needs in order to plan the best treatment.

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Related Information

carpal tunnel syndrome Left Hand - Pre-op appearance of fingers affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis with ulnar drift and dislocated MP joints

Right Hand - Post-op correction showing realignment of the fingers after MP Arthroplasty

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