Arthritis

Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis 

There are many different types of arthritic conditions that involve the hands and wrist.  The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) , sometimes called degenerative arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage breaks down causing pain and stiffness in the joints of the hands.  Our joints provide flexibility, stability, support and protection for our bones.  The cartilage assists with these functions by coating the ends of the bones.Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis) Osteoarthritis does not spread to other areas of the body but is confined to the affected joints.  

Rheumatoid Arthritis develops as your body’s immune system attacks a joint causing inflammation and significant pain in wrists and hands (as well as other areas).  Rheumatoid arthritis may also have other symptoms such as loss of appetite, fever, no energy, anemia or tissue lumps under the skin.


Symptoms of Arthritis

The most common symptom of arthritis is pain in the affected joints. Other symptoms of arthritis may include swelling and stiffness in the joints and these are usually worse after an extened period of non activity, such as waking up in the morning. If you are having continuous pain in the affected joint this indicates an advanced case of arthritis where there has been a significant or complete loss of cartilage in the joint. 


Your Treatment Options

Treatment for arthritis may include surgery, hand therapy, or a combination of the two depending on the severity of your symptoms and how advanced your arthritis has become. Initial treatment may include hand therapy and steroid injections to treat the symptoms of arthritis. 

If your symptoms advance further, there are many different surgical interventions that may include tendon or ligament transfers, joint replacements and joint fusions.