Hand Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis of the Hand)
How Is Osteoarthritis of the Hand Diagnosed?
To diagnose osteoarthritis, your doctor will conduct a physical exam and take a medical history. Some symptoms of arthritis are noticeable, such as swelling, warmth, deformity, and loss of motion. Tests that may be used to diagnose arthritis include:
- X-rays, which may show changes in bones or the development of bone spurs
- bone scans, which may show arthritis even before the changes show up on X-rays
How Is Hand Osteoarthritis Treated?
The main goals of osteoarthritis treatment involve reducing or eliminating pain and/or restoring function and mobility. The following nonsurgical treatments may be used:
- Medications, including anti-inflammatory or analgesic drugs; this treatment might also include injections of pain reliever/steroid combinations.
- Finger or wrist splints or soft sleeve devices worn during the night or during certain activities
- Resting the joints
- Heat treatments such as paraffin baths or cold treatments
- Topical treatments such as capsaicin cream
- Performing exercises given by your doctor or occupational therapist
- Steroid injections into the affected joints
If the pain is too severe, or if movement becomes too limited, surgery may be needed. Types of surgery for treating hand osteoarthritis include:
- Joint fusion, in which the bones are fused together
- Joint reconstruction, which involves replacing the joint surface that has deteriorated with a joint implant or with tissue such as tendons