Arthritis of the hand can be both painful and disabling. Arthritis literally means “inflamed joint”. The most common forms of arthritis in the hand are osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis (after an injury), and rheumatoid arthritis. Stiffness, swelling, and pain are symptoms common to all forms of arthritis in the hand.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease in which the cushioning cartilage that covers the bone surfaces at the joints begins to wear out.
In the hand, osteoarthritis most often develops in three sites:
- At the base of the thumb, where the thumb and wrist come together (the trapezio-metacarpal, or basilar, joint)
- At the end joint closest to the finger tip (the distal interphalangeal or DIP joint)
- At the middle joint of a finger (the proximal interphalangeal or PIP joint)
It also often develops in the wrist.
Treatment for Arthritis
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Joint mobilisation
- Joint manipulation
- Spinal and pelvic realignment
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Exercise programs to stretch, self treat and improve proprioception, balance, strength and core stability
- Biomechanical Assessment
- Neural mobilisation
- Education / training advise/ phased return to exercise
- Activity modification advice
- Ergonomic advice
- Ice or heat treatment
- Splinting advice
- Injection advice
- Surgical advice