Pictures of Arthritis in Fingers
Arthritis in Your Hands
The joints in your hands and fingers may be the most delicate ones in the body. At their best, they work together like a well-oiled machine and help you do your daily activities with ease. When arthritis develops in those joints, the effects are painful and may ultimately lead to a loss of function.
Click through this slideshow to learn more about the symptoms of arthritis in the fingers and how the condition can affect you.
In its earliest stages, arthritis causes a dull, burning sensation in your fingers, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. You might experience this pain after an active day when you have used your hands more than usual. Pain in the early stages of arthritis may come and go.
As arthritis worsens, more cartilage wears away. Without the protective barrier to cushion your delicate joints, you may have pain even when you don’t use your hands, or when you use them very little. Pain might become so severe that it wakes you up from your sleep.
Increased Joint Mobility
According to the Mayo Clinic, thumb arthritis is the most common form of osteoarthritis in the hand and fingers. Arthritis in your thumb joint can cause hypermobility in nearby joints. In a hypermobile joint, ligaments can no longer support the joint and do not function as well as they should because of damage to another joint.
Severe hypermobility can lead to sprains and even joint dislocations. Overuse of your affected joints may cause increased pain.
The tissue and cartilage in your hands and fingers are designed to protect your delicate joints. If a joint is under excessive stress or is damaged, the tissues that line the joint may swell. This swelling may make your fingers and hands appear more puffy than usual.
Swelling in a joint causes joint stiffness. When the tissue and cartilage are swollen, a joint cannot move as freely. Joint stiffness is especially common in the morning when you’ve not used or moved the joint in several hours. It also occurs after a long day of movement or work when the joints have been under more stress than usual.
The cartilage in your joints can wear away unevenly. Additionally, the tissues and ligaments designed to hold the joints in place grow weaker as arthritis progresses. These two developments can cause deformities in your fingers and hands. Joints may begin to sit at an angle or slip to one side. You will notice a slight turn in the direction of a finger or joint. As the condition worsens, the angle will become more severe, and the deformity will be more obvious.
Grinding in Joints
A layer of cartilage covers and lubricates the bones in a healthy joint. In an arthritic joint, the cartilage is worn away and disappears altogether. As this happens, you may experience a grinding or grating sensation in your joints. This is caused by bone-on-bone contact in your joint. You won’t be able to actually see this grinding without an X-ray or imaging from your doctor, but it can be very painful.
You may not be able to see this symptom, but you will likely be able to feel it. When a joint is damaged, ligaments and tissues around the joint become inflamed. This inflammation will cause warmth you can feel and redness you can see in your hands and fingers.
Small fluid-filled sacs called mucous cysts may develop in arthritic hands. These cysts may appear like small dents or ridges on your fingers. They are most likely to develop at the end of the finger and under the fingernail. The cysts rarely grow to be very large. They are most common in older patients and are generally harmless.
Bone spurs may also develop in arthritic joints. As the damage in a joint worsens, the body naturally tries to repair the damage by creating extra bone. These knobby growths can give your hands and fingers a gnarled appearance. Bone spurs may eventually prevent a joint from functioning properly.
Recognizing Arthritis in Your Fingers
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 21 million American adults live with the visible—and not always visible—symptoms of arthritis each day. If you recognize arthritis symptoms in your hands and fingers, make an appointment with your doctor. They can teach you good joint exercises and help you find treatments that will ease the pain and discomfort you’re experiencing.
- Arthritis. (2013, September 10). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 15, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/
- Arthritis of the Hand. (2007, July). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved September 15, 2013, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00224
- Bone spurs. (2013, July 13). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 15, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bone-spurs/DS00627
- Diseases & Conditions: Arthritis of the Hand and Wrist. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved September 15, 2013, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/arthritis/hic_Arthritis_of_the_Hand_and_Wrist.aspx
- Inflammation and Stiffness: The Hallmarks of Arthritis. (n.d.). Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved September 16, 2013, from http://www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/signs-and-symptoms/arthritis-swelling-and-stiffness.php
- Joint swelling. (2010, July 23). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 16, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003262.htm
- Thumb arthritis. (2013, July 13). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 16, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/thumb-arthritis/DS00703