Arthritis is commonly seen in the joints of the fingers. The knuckle joints are frequently affected in patients with osteoarthritis, also called wear-and-tear arthritis. Finger arthritis can cause problems with everyday activities, such as tying shoes and buttoning a shirt. Arthritis results when joints become irregular, essentially “wear out,” and the cartilage disappears. Arthritis is most noticeable when it affects the hands and fingers and can be both painful and disabling. The most common forms of hand arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Dr. Leah Urbanosky, Hinsdale Orthopaedics shoulder to hand specialist, will carefully examine a patient to determine whether he/she has similar symptoms in other joints and will assess the impact of the arthritis on the patient’s life and activities. The clinical appearance of the hands and fingers also helps diagnose the type of arthritis. CT scans can show certain characteristics of osteoarthritis, such as narrowing of the joint space, the formation of bony outgrowth and the development of dense, hard areas of bone along the joint margins. An MRI may help distinguish rheumatologic disease.
Most patients with hand arthritis complain of pain, swelling and stiffness in the fingers. With osteoarthritis, bony nodules may develop at the middle and/or end joints of the finger along with a deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb. Swelling and a bump at the base of the thumb where it joins the wrist may also be evident. Grip and pinch strength may be diminished, causing difficulty with activities such as opening jars or turning keys.
Dr. Urbanosky will work with a hand arthritis patient to relieve pain and restore as much function as possible. Some first line of defense treatment options include:
Surgery is usually not advised unless these more conservative treatments fail and the patient either has too much pain or too little function. In most cases, the patient will let the doctor know when he/she feels it is time for surgery. Surgery options include:
Joint fusion. The arthritic surface is removed and the bones on each side of the joint are fused together, eliminating motion from the problem joint. This procedure may be used to relieve pain and correct deformities that interfere with functioning.
Joint reconstruction. In this case, the degenerated joint surface is removed in order to eliminate the rough, irregular bone-to-bone contact that causes pain and restricts motion. Once the degenerated portion of the joint surface is removed, it may be replaced with rolled-up soft tissue, such as a tendon, or with a joint replacement implant.
Dr. Urbanosky will carefully consult with a patient to determine if a surgery is necessary and it if will produce a better outcome. Side effects and risks will also be considered.
If you are experiencing hand pain and would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Leah Urbanosky, please call her office at: (815) 462-3474.
Cysts & Tumors
De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Traumatic Hand Injuries
Joint Replacement of the Hand
Mallet Finger (Baseball Finger)
Swan Neck Deformity
UCL Tear of the Thumb
Osteoarthritis of the Thumb