Arthritis is a medical condition that affects the body’s joints, including the hands and fingers—inflammation forms in the joints, causing pain and discomfort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says at least 23 percent of Americans have arthritis, and about 24 million people reports living with severe pain, swelling, and stiffness. This article will focus on arthritis in the fingers:
- The most common types of arthritis
- The early warning signs and symptoms
- The effects of RA and OA on everyday living
- Steps to take to help sufferers manage the pain
Common Types of Arthritis In Fingers
There are at least 100 different types of arthritis. The three most common types that affect the joints are rheumatoid arthritis RA and osteoarthritis OA. RA is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system accidentally attacks healthy tissues in the body. It usually occurs in smaller joints, but larger joints can also be affected. In some cases, complications of RA cause problems with organs in the body like the skin, heart, lungs, eyes, and blood vessels. Joint damage caused by RA leads to long-lasting chronic pain and deformity.
Osteoarthritis OA also affects the joints and is commonly referred to as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. Like RA, OA can occur in any joint but is more prevalent in the hand, knees, hips, or spine, resulting in painful swelling and stiffness. This type of arthritis affects more than 50 percent of people 65 and older. Older people experiencing this type of arthritis joint pain typically become immobile, leading to weight gain and an inability to perform daily routine tasks like getting dressed or eating a meal.
Early Warning Signs And Symptoms of Arthritis in Fingers
People with either OA or RA should not ignore the early warning signs. In OA, the signs and symptoms are pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited flexibility or range of motion. OA is the breakdown of cartilage between the joints. This cartilage breakdown over time leads to bone spurs and distal interphalangeal joint or DIP joint. Bone spurs happen when the bone tries to compensate for the cartilage breakdown. The bone grows or expands without the cartilage’s protection, causing the bones to rub together, leading to severe pain.
The DIP joint is the joint closest to the tip of the finger connecting the distal phalanx to the middle joint, or middle phalanx. When the DIP joint is affected by OA, the inflammation has become so severe that Heberden’s nodes form. Heberden’s nodes are small nodes that form around the existing bone, making the finger joint look distorted or deformed.
Symptoms of RA are pain, swelling, and stiffness in multiple joints. Other symptoms include hand weakness, poor dexterity, fatigue, and weight loss. Flare-up occurs when the symptoms get worse, and remission occurs when the symptoms get better. RA risk factors increase with age. People in their sixties are more likely to have RA, and women are more at risk than men, especially women who have never given birth. Obese people also have a greater risk of developing RA as well as individuals who smoke. There isn’t a cure for OA or RA, and both of these debilitating diseases diminishes’ your quality of life.
Please get in touch with your doctor at the first sign of RA or OA symptoms. Ask questions and follow their medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment suggestions. Early detection and therapy can slow down the progression.
The Effects of RA and OA On Everyday Living
RA and OA have a severe effect on suffers’ lives every day. Performing simple tasks are almost impossible without pain. It isn’t easy to open and close your fingers to simply hold a hairbrush, comb, or razor. Weight loss probably occurs due to an inability to wrap your fingers around an eating utensil. The dexterity required to grip small handles is non-existent. It becomes too painful to grasp a pen to sign your name or turn a doorknob to open a door.
The effects of RA and OA also cause emotional problems. Some people living with arthritis tend to eliminate participation in social activities because of the pain. Social isolation leads to depression which creates a whole set of new problems.
Steps To Help Manage Arthritis Pain
It takes effort and practice to help manage arthritis pain. According to Medical News Today, one of the most important things you can do to manage arthritis pain in the fingers is exercise. Below are finger exercises to do several times a day:
- Make a fist for a few seconds, opening to stretch the fingers, then repeating the motion.
- Gently squeeze a stress ball repeatedly.
- Do finger lifts by placing your palms flat and, one by one, slowly lift each finger.
- Use your fingers to make shapes like the “O” and “C” to improve mobility and decrease stiffness.
Click here for the complete list of finger exercises on Medical News Today. Take your time and practice these exercises daily. These exercises are designed to reduce pain in the joints and improve overall hand mobility.
The pain, stiffness, and swelling from arthritis make it difficult to remain self-reliant. Routine tasks like getting dressed, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or sitting down to enjoy a warm meal are too painful. The use of adaptive dressing, grooming, and eating aids offer the best solution. Here are a few adaptive tools designed to make living with arthritis easier:
Great Grips Doorknob Covers – 2 Pack with Glow Inserts make opening any door effortless. This handy doorknob handle is perfect for people with arthritis of the hand and fingers. It’s soft, slip-free, glows in the dark, and provides extra leverage to most doorknobs. You can turn it with one finger.
Easy Grip Foam Utensil Handles are a great way to transform regular handles into built-up handles. Add it to hairbrushes, toothbrushes, razors, eating utensils, and more. The soft, non-slip foam is easy to grip and comfortable to hold for people with arthritis, poor dexterity, or weak grasp. This 9-pack comes in different sizes to fit large or small handles and is available in various colors.
Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis makes it impossible to button a shirt or zip up a dress or trousers. This Soft Grip Button Aid with Zipper Pull helps manage small buttons with ease. It’s a must-have for people with arthritis in their hands and fingers. Features include a formed wire buttoning aid on one end and a brass hook on the other end for pulling zipper tabs. Use it at home and when traveling. The small compact size can go anywhere.
There are several choices for adaptive eating utensils. Each of them is perfect for bringing people with arthritis back to the table. The Clip-On Eating Utensils enable users to control their eating utensils during meals. It clips onto the hand and holds the fork or spoon in place. The clip is a vinyl-covered hand strap that fits the users’ hands snuggly. Users with ulnar deviation drift in their hands, an arthritic condition that causes the knucklebones to swell and bends the fingers toward the little finger, can enjoy their meal without assistance. Sold separately or in a fork and spoon set. Dishwasher safe.
Elder Essentials Adaptive Eating Utensils are affordable and functional. They feature extra-large, ribbed handles for a slip-resistant and comfortable grip. Ideal for users living with the pain and stiffness of arthritis, limited or weak grasping ability, and those with a limited range of motion. The quality stainless steel tips are made for long-lasting durability. Users can use the stainless steel serrated knife to cut through food with one hand. This unique 4-piece set is dishwasher safe!
These Soft Built-Up Handle Utensils are preferred for people with osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and limited or weak hand dexterity. The foam handles are comfortable and easier to hold than regular eating utensils. They enable users to feed themselves without pain. Features include a removable foam handle and a plastic inner handle. Users can remove the foam handle, making the utensil a regular utensil for everyday use. Sold separately, in a 3-piece or 4-piece set.
There isn’t a cure for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Until there is a cure, following the steps presented here and talking to your healthcare provider will enable people with arthritis to manage their condition. Organizations like the Arthritis Foundation and Cure Arthritis are doing everything they can to help make living with arthritis possible. For more information about the products featured here, visit TheElderExpo.com.