Arthritis is not a single disease, but any of 100+ conditions that cause joint pain or joint disease. Osteo arthritis generally refers to changes in joint health due to "wear and tear," and while it tends to afflict older adults, it can strike young people as well, if they suffer sports or other injuries or if they have misalignments that create stress on joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that can occur at any age when the body mistakes joint tissue as an enemy and marshals its immune system to attack them. Acute flare-ups of RA can not only result in temporary pain and disability but may cause permanent joint damage, so prompt treatment is critical. Make an appointment with our Houston hand specialists today!
- Sore or stiff joints
- Stiffness that improves with movement
- Pain that worsens after activity or at the end of the day
- Limited range of motion in the affected joints
- Mild swelling, tenderness, or redness in finger joints
- Joint pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness
- More than one joint affected
- The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
- Loss of appetite
Osteoarthritis affects over half of all people and it is common that most will develop arthritis at some point in their lives, usually with advanced age. This disease is attributed to the degeneration of joints and in the hand, it is typically seen in the wrist, basilar joint which connects your thumb and wrist, fingertips, and the middle knuckles of the fingers.
Pain results when cartilage (which is a part of the body that does not regenerate) thins and wears down. Bone begins to grind against bone without the soft, protective cushion of cartilage and this causes stiffness, inflammation, and pain. In some cases, this constant grinding and inflammation can form bone spurs around the joint. Bone spurs in the hand can be visible when there is overuse and the finger begins to appear misshapen and swollen.
Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear disease and may seem to present a Catch-22: overworking the joints can cause arthritis, yet exercising them can prevent and improve arthritic conditions. The best strategy for both avoiding OA and living with OA is proper nutrition for strong bones; slower, gentler movements; and low-impact exercise like swimming, walking, and biking in Houston.
While osteoarthritis is not a curable condition, it may progress in an unpredictable fashion and be only a minor nuisance over a lifetime. In the worst cases, it may be crippling. Treatment consists of reducing swelling through NSAIDs and cold therapy, and maintaining joint mobility and strength through physical therapy and home exercise. A Houston hand specialist can work with you on an individualized treatment plan to manage your OA symptoms.
When joints are severely damaged, the HSST surgeons can repair or replace them, often through minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, with small incisions and rapid recovery time.
Advances in treatment for rheumatoid arthritis have been encouraging over the past decade in particular. If treated early and aggressively with medication, more patients can live active lives with RA, manage flares with minimal medications, and often go into remission for many years at a time.