Treatment for Arthritis Pain in Fingers: Understanding Symptoms and Causes

Arthritis pain in the fingers is an impairing condition affecting millions worldwide. This condition can cause a great deal of pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints of the fingers, making it difficult to carry out simple tasks such as typing, cooking, and even holding objects. If you are suffering from arthritis pain in your fingers, it is essential to understand the causes of this condition so that you can take steps to manage it effectively.

Osteoarthritis is usually one of the main causes of finger arthritis due to wear and tear, injuries, or other factors. When the cartilage begins to break down, the finger bones can rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.

If you are suffering from arthritis pain in your fingers, you should speak with your doctor about your options for managing this condition. There are several treatments for finger arthritis available, including medications, physical therapy, exercise, and diet. Let’s discuss the symptoms of arthritis pain in the fingers below.

Symptoms of Arthritis Pain in Fingers

  • Pain And Stiffness

Arthritis pain in fingers is caused by joint lining inflammation, known as synovium. This inflammation is caused by autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or wear and tear due to aging, overuse, or injury. Treatment for arthritis pain in fingers includes

  • Hand exercises.
  • Over-the-counter painkillers.
  • Hot/cold therapy.
  • Possibly supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin.
  • Splinting and compression gloves may also help with acute episodes.
  • Swelling And Redness

Swelling and redness in the fingers are common finger arthritis symptoms. Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This attack causes the joint lining to swell, leading to pain, stiffness, and loss of function. The swelling and redness are caused by increased blood flow to the affected area. 

  • Joint Deformity 

Inflammation in finger joints can lead to cartilage breakdown and bones rubbing against each other, causing pain and swelling. It can eventually result in joint misalignment and deformity.

  • Limited Range of Motion

One of the causes of ROM in arthritis pain in fingers is joint inflammation. The inflammation can cause stiffness and a decreased range of motion. 

The pain associated with arthritis can also cause the fingers to become stiff as the body’s intrinsic reaction is triggered to protect the joints from further damage. Now that we know about osteoarthritis’s symptoms , let’s discuss the causes below.

Causes of Arthritis Pain in Fingers 

Generally, there are some common causes of arthritis pain in fingers. These causes are discussed in detail below:

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis causes changes in the bone and connective tissues. It leads to inflammation of the joint lining, resulting in pain in the fingers. Symptoms of finger osteoarthritis include soreness, aching, stiffness, limited range of motion, decreased grip strength, swelling, and nodes around the joints.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes joint inflammation, leading to pain and stiffness. This inflammation can cause the cartilage in the joints to break down, resulting in bone rubbing against bone and causing pain in the fingers. 

  • Post-Traumatic Arthritis 

Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after an injury or trauma to a joint and is characterized by inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Besides, it is also caused by the formation of bone spurs.

  • Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis (PA) is a condition causing joint pain and swelling, particularly in the fingers. It is often seen in people with an inflammatory skin condition called psoriasis but can also occur without skin lesions. PA is accompanied by painful, sausage-like swelling of the fingers and toes.

Treatment Options for Arthritis Pain in Fingers

Medications

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

NSAIDs are pain relievers that can help treat arthritis pain in the fingers. These medications reduce inflammation and pain, benefiting those with arthritis in the fingers. These drugs can help reduce inflammation and pain, allowing those with arthritis a better quality of life.

  • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

Several DMARDs are available, including methotrexate, leflunomide, and sulfasalazine. Methotrexate is a common DMARD, and it works by blocking certain enzymes involved in the inflammatory process. Leflunomide works similarly by inhibiting the function of immune cells that contribute to inflammation. Sulfasalazine, on the other hand, works by reducing inflammation in the joints.

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy

Physical therapy involves exercises and stretches that reduce pain and improve flexibility in the affected joints. Some techniques in Physical Therapy include range-of-motion exercises, hand-strengthening exercises, and hot and cold therapies. These techniques can help reduce pain, improve joint mobility, and increase strength in the fingers.

In contrast, occupational therapy focuses on helping people with arthritis easily perform daily activities. Occupational Therapy techniques involve modifying the environment, using assistive devices, and teaching people how to use their hands and fingers less painfully. 

For instance, an occupational therapist may teach a person how to use a different grip when holding utensils or using a computer to reduce strain on the fingers.

Surgery

  • Joint Fusion Surgery

Joint fusion surgery is a highly effective treatment for arthritis pain in the fingers. This surgical procedure involves fusing the bones in the affected joint, eliminating the pain and restoring function to the hand. 

The surgeon makes a small incision in hand and removes the damaged joint tissue. The bones in the joint are then fused using a small metal plate and screws to hold them in place typically takes several weeks, during which time you will need to wear a splint or cast to protect the hand.

  • Joint Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement surgery is an effective solution for treating arthritis pain in the fingers. The surgery can help relieve pain and improve the functionality of the affected joints.

The process of joint replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one. The surgeon will make a small incision in the finger and remove the damaged joint. Then, they insert the artificial joint and secure it with screws or other hardware. The new joint is designed to mimic the natural movement of the original joint, allowing for improved and reduced pain.

Conclusion

Arthritis pain in fingers can be debilitating and impact one’s quality of life, but seeking treatment is crucial in managing finger arthritis symptoms and preventing further damage. Understanding the symptoms and causes of arthritis pain in fingers is the first step in getting the right treatment. 

With the help of a healthcare professional, patients can explore various treatment options, such as medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes that can help alleviate the pain and improve hand function.

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