Coping With Osteoarthritis in Hands and Fingers
Your hands and fingers are subject to a lot of wear and tear over the years; because you use them constantly, they may develop osteoarthritis due to degeneration. If you have injured your hands or fingers at any phase of your life, you are more likely to develop arthritis of the injured part earlier than if you had not sustained an injury.
Signs of Osteoarthritis in the Hands and Fingers
The most common symptom of osteoarthritis in your hands and fingers is pain and stiffness, which may be worse when the weather is damp or if it is going to rain.
Other indicators are:
- You are more likely to have arthritis in your hands and fingers if you have arthritis in other parts of your body
- Due to structural changes in your joints and surrounding tissues, you may hear or feel grating of the joints in your hands and fingers when you move them
- Your range of motion in your hands or fingers may be restricted
Visible Changes in Your Hands and Fingers
On top of pain and stiffness, you may experience visual changes that indicate osteoarthritis in your hands and fingers. These changes can be deformities of your hands, mostly in the form of hard lumps called nodes.
Women are more likely than men to develop hard lumps in the finger joints, called Heberden's nodes. They may cause the ends of your fingers to bend sideways.
Another type of node, called Bouchard’s node, is less common. Bouchard's nodules form at the first joint of the fingers.
Both types of nodules may cause redness, swelling and discomfort. The affected area may ache or be tender to touch. Often the changes begin in one finger, but progress to multiple digits as the disease progresses.
Some people with osteoarthritis are embarrassed by the deformities nodes and other changes in the hands develop, however there is little to be done to stop the changes.
Protect the Joints of Your Hands and Fingers
It is important you take steps to protect your joints and prevent further damage. One way to do this is by avoiding twisting and ringing movements of your hands as much as possible. Use ergonomically correct and larger tools to assist you and avoid gripping items tightly.
Use your larger muscles to perform tasks. For example, if you are carrying a purse, choose one with a shoulder strap rather than a clutch bag.
Limit grasping movements when possible and break up repetitive tasks. For example, take breaks if you are using scissors, knives or writing implements. Choose hobbies that do not require the use of repetitive actions for prolonged periods of time. For example, if you suffer from arthritis, knitting or needlepoint may not be the best choices for you.