Arthritis of Hand

Osteoarthritis of the hand is inflammation occurring within the joints of your hands. It commonly affects the wrist, base of the thumb joint and distal finger joints. In a normal, healthy joint, cartilage covers the ends of each bone to allow for smooth and easy movement between the surfaces. Over time, the cartilage gets worn out due to daily usage, resulting in the bones rubbing against each other. This causes osteoarthritis.

Arthritis of Hand


The most common cause of hand arthritis is degenerative, i.e. related to ageing or wear and tear. Other causes include post-traumatic causes and inflammatory causes such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and seronegative arthritis.


Signs And Symptoms

The symptoms of hand arthritis vary from person to person as most are dependent on the specific joints that are affected or the activities that a person does. Some patients may notice that their symptoms are worse in the morning.


Common signs and symptoms of hand arthritis include:

  • Pain and swelling in the affected joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Difficulty in finger movements
  • Weak grip



A thorough history and physical examination is necessary to ascertain the cause of the hand arthritis. Your hand surgeon will usually order x-rays to confirm the diagnosis of the arthritis, looking for decreased joint space and bone spurs. Blood investigations may be required to rule out other causes of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, other than degenerative causes.



Patients are usually prescribed with oral anti-inflammatory painkillers to relieve pain and swelling. Steroid injections can be administered in suitable cases to decrease inflammation at the affected area. Your hand surgeon may also recommend you to wear a splint for support. Patients are only advised to undergo surgery if they do not see any improvement in their condition despite conservative treatment methods. Surgical treatment options for hand arthritis include fusing the bones of the arthritic joint, or reconstructing or replacing the joints to reduce pain and stiffness.


Every case is different, hence it is best to consult a hand surgeon to determine the treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you are suffering hand arthritis, and let us help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many factors that can explain why the joint in your finger hurts and one of them is hand arthritis. It commonly affects the wrist, base of the thumb joint and distal finger joints. It is commonly caused by cartilage getting worn out due to daily usage, resulting in the bones rubbing against each other.

Although hand arthritis commonly affects older people, it can also occur in young people due to these causes:

  • Injury 
  • Infections
  • Jobs that require repetitive movements
  • Genetics

Hand arthritis causes inflammation which results in the joint fluid collecting in and around the joint. This worsens overnight as the joints stay stationary and is a reason why you may feel more pain and stiffness in the morning.

Non-surgical treatments are usually recommended, depending on your age, activity level, condition and more. However, surgery is usually discussed if conservative treatments fail to give relief so as to improve your quality of life. It is advisable to discuss with a hand specialist to determine the most appropriate treatment method.

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