Don’t Let Hands Crippled By Arthritis Get You Down
Swollen, stiff, enlarged and deformed joints of the fingers and the base of the thumb are obvious signs of osteoarthritis, a painful condition that affects millions of men and women in the U.S. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) estimates that one in five people have at least one joint affected by arthritis.
What exactly is arthritis?
It is a degenerative disease that causes a gradual wearing away of cartilage – the strong, fibrous tissue that acts as a cushion between bones. Less cushion means the bones can rub against each other, causing pain and inflammation. The inflamed joint swells, which stretches the capsule that covers it, leading to further pain, stiffness and difficulty moving the fingers. Cysts can also develop at the joints.
Who’s at risk for arthritis of the hands, fingers or wrist?
Although people of any age can be affected, younger individuals are more apt to develop osteoarthritis due to a traumatic injury or genetic bone condition. In older adults, it is directly related to wear and tear from age. Other risk factors include a job or sports activity that requires long-term repetitive movements that stress the joint.
What are your treatment options?
Nonsurgical treatments include anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication, injections with corticosteroids, wearing a splint or brace, topical creams, heat treatments and physical therapy.
When pain, deformity and loss of movement become too great, surgical treatment may help. The joints can be fused together to relieve pain and correct deformities. Joint reconstruction removes the damaged joint surface and replaces it with an implant.
For more information about arthritis and treatment options, go to www.kaganortho.com.