Arthritis in the wrist is common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, but osteoarthritis and posttraumatic arthritis can also cause wrist joint inflammation. Although symptoms vary, most of them develop over time and can cause permanent joint damage. There is no cure for hand arthritis, but several treatments are available that relieve the symptoms. Keep reading to get more information on arthritis and how to manage the pain.
Arthritis affects wrist bones by destroying joint cartilage, a slippery substance that cushions and coats the bones. Without a smooth joint surface, your bones will rub together, causing friction, loss of cartilage, and eventually joint damage.
Types of Wrist Arthritis
Although there are a variety of different arthritis types, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, and posttraumatic arthritis are the most common types of hand arthritis.
Wrist Osteoarthritis develops when bone cartilage wears down, and it mostly affects seniors but can develop in younger adults too.Bone friction is the primary cause of osteoarthritis, although Kienbock’s disease can trigger cartilage wear and tear.
Joint pain is the most common indicator of wrist osteoarthritis. Other signs include morning stiffness, wrist swelling, and joint locking.
Rheumatoid wrist arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects joints throughout the body, but mostly hands and wrists. Rheumatoid Arthritis is symmetrical--develops on the same joint on both sides of the body.
In the early stages of rheumatoid wrist arthritis, there will be joint stiffness and tenderness that fades away with movement. But as the inflammation progresses, you will experience warmth and redness around the wrist, decrease in range of motion, and long-term swelling.
RA starts in the joints, but eventually cause widespread inflammation.
PA develops after an injury like a broken wrist or torn ligaments. Any form of wrist injury can damage the cartilage and cause inflammation.
Stages of Wrist Arthritis
Hand arthritis symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly depending on the type of arthritis.
Mild arthritis is characterized by pain or irritation, and wrist stiffness in the morning. You can take supplements and engage in hand exercises to relieve the symptoms.
In this stage, hand movement will be slightly restricted. You may feel a low level of throbbing, frequent flare-ups, and the effects of inflammation will become apparent.
Severe wrist arthritis is characterized by excruciating pain after every activity and decreased hand motion. At this stage, physical deformity will be more noticeable. Anxiety and depression may also develop due to the pain.
You can manage the pain using pain medication and NSAIDs.
What are the Causes of Wrist Arthritis?
Wrist arthritis is a group of deformities that result in joint damage and is caused by degeneration of cartilage, joint inflammation, and prior wrist injury.
Osteoarthritis and RA are common and can affect people of all ages. But some people like seniors are more predisposed than others, due to several risk factors that include:
Repetitive hand movement
Hand trauma or injury that separates bone from the joint
Women are more predisposed to RA due to hormonal changes
Arthritis in Wrists Symptoms
Wrist arthritis symptoms differ from individual to individual based on the exposed risk factors.In the early stages, arthritis signs will mimic carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, and they may include:
Symptoms may occur regularly or intermittently--most times you will get flare-ups, but with proper treatment, you can go into remission. Arthritic remission is where you experience partial or no symptoms at all. Remission can last for years, but a change in your treatment plan can trigger a relapse.
How is Wrist Arthritis Diagnosed
Your rheumatologist or doctor will perform a comprehensive medical history, X-ray, urine and blood tests to identify the type of arthritis you might have.
How to Manage Wrist Pain
While arthritis is incurable, there are a variety of treatments that may help you reduce the severity of the symptom and delay the progression.
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen decrease inflammation. Steroid or cortisone injections are recommended to manage moderate to severe arthritis. For RA, your doctors may prescribe Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs to ease inflammation.
Try a wrist brace for the support you need, whether at the office or on the court. ( See Product )
A wrist brace supports your joint, eases stress on your bone, and stabilizes your wrist in a neutral position while sleeping. Most of the braces offer compression and retain heat to improve circulation and relieve inflammation.
Exercise Your Joints
Arthritis hand exercises strengthen your joints and muscles, increase circulation of oxygen, and add nutrients to the synovial fluid.Hand exercises should not only focus on the muscles but also the fingers.
Step 2: Slowly bend the four fingers until you make an ‘L’ shape.
Step 3: Move your wrist up for 30 to 60 seconds.
Ball Squeeze Exercises
You can use a therapy putty balls or tennis balls to exercise your joints. Just squeeze in and relax your hand for 30 seconds.
Therapy balls make it easy to keep your hands, wrists, and fingers fit! ( See Product )
Hot and Cold Therapy
A heating pad is the perfect way to help your aching bones heal, while enjoying comfortable warmth. ( See Product )
Heat relaxes stiff, tense, and sore muscles, and also stimulates blood circulation. Soaking your hands in hot water or using a heating pad can help alleviate painful joints.
A cold therapy pack offers short-term pain relief that you can keep on hand whenever you need it! ( See Product )
Cold therapy, on the other hand, relieves inflammation and burning sensations. Use an ice pack on your joints for 20 minutes at a time but no more, to avoid damaging your skin. Never apply heat on a red, warm, and irritated joints nor use cold packs on stiff joints.
Try on a pair of arthritis gloves for support and compression you can enjoy all day. ( See Product )
Compression therapy will support your veins, increase circulation, and relieve swelling in your joints. Wearing wrist gloves like the Vive arthritis gloves will provide mild compression to alleviate the pain. Furthermore, these gloves have an open- finger design that offers comfort as well as allow you to perform your daily tasks.
Use Assistive Devices
Hand pain will make daily chores hard to accomplish, but with a few tools, you can minimize the tension and strain on the joints.
Quad canes are designed to maximize support, while staying lightweight and portable for those who need a leg up. ( See Product )
A variety of walking devices are available for people with arthritis. But a quad cane is most suitable for wrist arthritis. It comes with a four-pronged rectangular base that distributes weight evenly, and the handle grip is padded to support the wrist and relieve tension.
Tools like dressing sticks, shoe horns, sock aids, and button hooks can make dressing a breeze.
A hand massage with moderate pressure can reduce joint stiffness and pain. But, be cautious when massaging and don’t massage your wrists during an active flare-up or when your hand is tender.
Also, try out supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin which help to promote the growth of joint cartilage. The supplements are effective during the early stages of arthritis.
Surgery can be done depending on the severity of the symptoms, your needs, and your response to drugs. Popular wrist arthritis surgeries done include:
The procedure is performed to clean, smooth the cartilage, and remove painful bone spurs. Joint reconstruction is ideal for patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
Wrist Joint Fusion
This procedure is done to remove the affected wrist joint and bones that are welded together. It involves grafting a piece of bone into the wrist bone to encourage bone growth.
Wrist Joint Replacement
Some of the worn out and damaged will be replaced with a prosthesis. While effective, this type of surgery can be expensive and lead to longer recovery times.
Wrist Arthritis Recovery
Wrist arthritis recovery can take weeks depending on the form of treatment you choose. You may need to use a hand splint to keep the wrist immobilized during the recovery period.
You can also use pain relievers to manage the pain, but first clear with your rheumatologist.
Severe wrist arthritis can cause other complications if not addressed early:
A complete breakdown of cartilage
Lack of hand movement
Furthermore, Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to
Widespread inflammation (fibromyalgia)
Pleurisy, inflammation of tissues between the lungs and ribcage
Vasculitis, thickening of the blood vessels
Living with Arthritis Wrist Pain
With a few lifestyle adjustments, you can manage the symptoms, relieve pain, and delay the progression arthritis of the wrist. Consider changing or eliminating certain strenuous activities that aggravate the symptoms. Additionally, invest in assistive devices including walking aids to reduce the pain and pressure off your joints. Don’t forget to change your diet and incorporate alternative therapies like a massage to alleviate inflammation.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.
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