Arthritis: Wrist, Hand and Thumb

Joint surgery patients come from many backgrounds and lifestyles. Athletes, parents, office workers, mechanics, teens and senior citizens alike may suffer from joint problems. Arthritis is one of the problems that can strike your joints, and your arms and hands are especially vulnerable areas.

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Why Your Hands?

Your hands are a complicated system of small bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Over time as damage accumulates from wear and tear, the joints become inflamed, swollen, and painful. Think of all of the tasks that rely on your wrists and hands, and how critical your thumb is to everything that you do. You rely on your hands for everything, so it is reasonable that the joints in these areas will break down quicker than other joints.

Diagnosis

To determine if you have arthritis in your hands, wrists, or thumbs, your joint surgery specialist will perform a series of tests. A physical examination will get the ball rolling and your doctor may have you get an x-rays or bone scan to determine the degree of damage.

Treatment

As with most joint issues, treatments may depend on the severity of the condition. Mild arthritis may be treated with exercise, anti-inflammatory medication, cartilage-building supplements, steroid injections, or hot/cold therapy. Nutrition also plays a major part in your joint comfort. Your orthopedic surgeon may contact your doctor to help you create a meal plan that will reduce inflammation in the body. If these less drastic measures aren’t enough to manage your case, joint surgery may be the next option. The joint may be repaired or reconstructed (which is preferable); or for more advanced cases, fused.

Recovery

After joint surgery is performed, you will work with a physical therapist who has an advanced knowledge of wrists, hands, and fingers. You’ll work to get your grip strength and flexibility back so that you can return to your everyday activities.

If your hands are painful or swollen, talking to your orthopedic doctor about different treatments will get you closer to using your hands comfortably.

 

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