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Arthritis usually strikes one or more joints in individuals over age 50 and is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Arthritis can impact many areas of the body including the hand and wrists.

The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis occurs as your joints lose the cartilage that acts as a shock absorber. Without this cushioning, moving your joints becomes painful, and in an attempt to replace the padding, your body produces synovium, a fluid in the joint lining. Synovium production causes swelling, which restricts motion and leads to pain.

To diagnose arthritis in your hands, our orthopedists will perform the “grind test” by adding weight to your hand and moving it around. Arthritis exists where you experience pain.

X-rays can also identify areas of inflammation. Your orthopedist could also recommend a bone scan if you’re experiencing pain but have normal X-rays.

What are the symptoms and treatments?

The most common symptom associated with arthritis is pain that usually increases with joint use, such as opening jars or starting a car. Other symptoms include swelling, warmth to the touch, grinding in the joints, and small cysts that appear on the fingers.

Our orthopedists often recommend non-surgical treatments first to address arthritis pain, including anti-inflammatory medications, splinting, and injections. If these strategies fail, surgery is an option, including joint fusions – where the joints no longer move – and joint replacements. Discuss your condition with your physician to determine which procedure might be appropriate for your needs.