Hand arthritis can have a huge impact on performance of daily tasks. Activities like brushing your teeth or opening a jar can be painful and challenging. If you have pain and limitations due to hand arthritis, there are many products available to help improve hand function.
Hand surgeon John M. Erickson, MD answers your questions about the disease called Gout.
Gout is a common type of inflammatory arthritis typically presenting with a red, hot, swollen, extremely painful joint. Gout frequently affects joints in the big toe, ankle or knee but can happen elsewhere. Gout can also involve the fingers, wrist and elbow. A “gout attack” usually starts suddenly and the pain increases rapidly. Because of the skin redness, warmth, and pain intensity, gout attacks can be difficult to distinguish from infection.
What is gout?
A gout attack is caused when uric acid normally circulating in the blood deposits in joints or soft tissues and forms crystals. When the body reacts to the crystals it creates a painful inflammatory reaction. Uric acid is naturally produced in the body. It is a normal breakdown product of a chemical in many foods called purines. Our bodies remove uric acid through the urine. Gout occurs when there is either too much uric acid produced in the body or too little being removed by the kidneys. Gout attacks can cause joint damage over time. Bumps or nodules of uric acid can develop around the joints in long-term gout; these nodules are called tophi.
ESPECIALLY AS A PERSON ages, it’s common to experience pain in the hands that’s caused by arthritis. It’s most often the result of a loss of cartilage that can leave bone rubbing on bone, or what’s called osteoarthritis. Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis (resulting from the skin disease psoriasis) that leads to swollen fingers and toes can also be to blame.
While some are able to handle a mild degree of discomfort, arthritis in the hands is frequently more than a fleeting annoyance, and it can even lead to hand deformity if left untreated. As pain becomes more regular and severe, it can affect a person’s ability to do everything from activities they enjoy – like golf or other forms of recreation – to those things they need to do just to get through the day, from buttoning a shirt to gripping a cup of coffee in the morning.
Fortunately, there are ways you can ease arthritis-related hand pain. Read the full story.
Gout and Pseudogout are two types of arthritis than can appear suddenly and cause sore joints in the hands and sometimes in other parts of the body. This condition can be common in the elbow, wrist, finger, knee and big toe joints.
Here are 6 signs that you may have gout or pseudogout:
- Hot joints
- Swollen joints
- Red joints
- Painful joints
- Infected-looking joints
- Tophi (white bumps) under the skin
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis in which the lining of the joint gets inflamed and swollen, causing the joint to become loose or crooked. Psoriatic arthritis is not the same as psoriasis, which is a skin condition that causes skin to become dry, red, and flaky on any part of the body. However, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, up to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, so there is a link between the two.
Psoriatic arthritis, which is common in the hands, may cause your bones to lose their shape due to the smooth ends of the bones wearing out. This condition affects men and women equally. Some symptoms may include:
- Red and swollen joints
- Joints that sometimes feel warm
- Decreased joint motion and stiff-feeling joints
- Pitting, ridging or crumbling fingernails
- Deformed end of finger
Imagine how frustrating it would be to try to open a jar or button a shirt without your thumb. This feeling is all too common for those with one of the most common types of hand osteoarthritis.
Hand osteoarthritis is second in prevalence only to knee arthritis in the United States. Osteoarthritis in the thumb joint nearest the palm — the carpometacarpal (CMC) or basal joint — is the type that most commonly causes patients to seek the care of a hand or orthopaedic surgeon. The CMC joint, which is between the thumb metacarpal and a small bone called the trapezium, allows the swiveling, pivoting and pinching needed to grip things in your hand.
“While men and women can get basal joint arthritis, women seem to have more joint laxity, which leads to malalignment of the joint, cartilage wear, arthritis and pain, “ Dr. Shapiro says.
Thumb arthritis pain can be debilitating, making everyday self-care tasks intolerable. There is a surgical option when other treatments, such as injections and therapy, fail to adequately reduce pain. A carpometacarpal arthroplasty or CMC arthroplasty is a joint replacement procedure for the base of your thumb. It eliminates the grinding and pain felt from the rubbing of bone on bone after the protective cartilage has worn away, usually caused by arthritis.
Below are some commonly asked questions regarding this procedure:
Will I be in a cast?
Yes. You will likely be in a cast for 2-4 weeks. You will also use either a removable orthosis a hand therapist will custom make for you or an off-the-shelf thumb and wrist splint for a month after the cast has been removed. This will help maintain the optimum position of your thumb as you are healing and protect your new thumb joint.
What happens after my thumb has been immobilized?
Any time a joint has been immobilized, it takes time to regain your flexibility. For this surgery, the wrist and thumb are usually quite stiff. Your doctor will likely recommend you see a hand therapist to assist you with regaining the range of motion and strength safely.