Common Hand And Wrist Issues In Elderly
We use our hands to do a variety of tasks every day – from simple tasks such as using our phones or typing on our computers, to driving, just to mention a few. It is difficult to get anything done without them. Unfortunately, as we get older, our hands become weaker and less flexible. Some hand symptoms like hand pain, stiffness, numbness, weakness and wrist pain indicate underlying medical conditions. Hence, it is advisable to know the symptoms of each underlying condition so that you can seek treatment from a hand specialist in Singapore at the right time. Here we share two common hand and wrist conditions in the elderly:
1. Osteoarthritis of Hand and Wrist
Osteoarthritis is a condition referred to the degeneration of joint cartilage due to repetitive usage. It is common amongst the elderly and can affect the finger and wrist joints. The main causes of hand and wrist osteoarthritis are the ageing of these joints, decreased secretion of synovial fluid, as well as the thinning of cartilage. Improper postures and activities, such as lifting of heavy objects, increase stress on the finger joints and may worsen your condition. In addition, osteoarthritis is not limited to just the finger joints, the wrists can be affected as well.
Some of the common symptoms of hand and wrist osteoarthritis include:
- Joint pain
- Stiffness of fingers and wrist
- Difficulty gripping
Prolonged inflammation reduces finger range of motion and may eventually lead to your muscles weakening. Thus, it is best to see a hand and wrist specialist as soon as possible if you are suffering from the following symptoms.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It is very common for hand surgeons in Singapore to see patients suffering from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in their practice, especially because the risk of this condition increases with age. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, pain, as well as weakness in both the hand and wrist. This is often a result of increased pressure on the median nerve located within the wrist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome presents itself differently from other sources of hand pain, like osteoarthritis. The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome often progress slowly, and some of the early signs include:
- Numbness at night
- Tingling and/or pain in the fingers, especially the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers
- Loss of hand function
Due to the slow progression of this condition, many older adults tend to ignore the initial symptoms and only seek treatment when they become severe, or when they cannot perform their usual daily activities and sleep is affected. When carpal tunnel syndrome is left untreated, it can result in the muscles wasting away, making it less likely to heal.
Treatment For Hand Ailments
While there are different treatment options available to treat the pain associated with hand injuries and age-related deterioration, it is always recommended to seek the advice of a hand specialist in Singapore. By seeing a hand specialist, they can administer tests such as imaging studies and nerve conduction tests to better understand the cause and come up with individualised treatment plans for you.
Depending on the severity of your condition, some of the treatment options can include oral or topical painkillers, steroid injections, as well as, physical therapy. Only in very severe cases, will surgery be recommended by your hand surgeon to relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Many hand-related problems are not only a consequence of ageing. Instead, they are signs of an ongoing age-related condition such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. Hand and wrist pain can have an impact on the quality of life for many patients. Tasks that were once easy and doable can become difficult for patients suffering from pain and weakness in their hands. Hence, it is important for patients experiencing these symptoms to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Are you, or an elderly at home suffering from prolonged hand and wrist pain? Make an appointment at Advanced Hand Centre and let Dr Jacqueline Tan, a hand specialist and hand surgeon in Singapore improve your quality of life.