Treatment for Arthritis of the Hands

By Dr. Gregg Vagner on November 29, 2018

Illustration of hand arthritis vs. a healthy jointThe hands are made up of many small bones and joints. These bones are cushioned, or protected, by a layer of cartilage that separates them from adjacent bones.

Unfortunately, aging, repetitive motion, trauma, and genetic disposition can all cause cartilage to wear down, leaving the bones and joints unprotected. This condition is more commonly known as osteoarthritis. Arthritis of the hands can limit motion and cause significant discomfort.

At Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin, we offer a number of treatments for arthritis of the hands, including hand surgery. Hand surgery addresses problems with the bones and joints to alleviate pain and restore range of motion.

While hand surgery can be a great success, it is usually only recommended in the most severe cases. There are several treatments for arthritis of the hands that may prove successful for our Austin, TX patients.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is often the first line of treatment for arthritis of the hands. Physical therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can be successful in restoring hand strength and improving range of motion.

Physical therapists work with patients, having them perform hand exercises that are appropriate for each unique case.

In addition to working with physical therapists, patients are often given exercises to perform at home. When patients carefully follow the provided physical therapy regimen, they should see a marked improvement in arthritis symptoms.

Medication

Most patients find relief from a variety of arthritis medications. Medications may be used on their own, but are more often prescribed as an addition to treatments such as physical therapy.

Many arthritis patients rely on pain medication to alleviate the discomfort that arthritis can cause. Individuals with arthritis should choose nonsteroidal pain medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications target pain and inflammation, which can have positive effects for arthritis patients.

Other medications that are commonly prescribed to arthritis patients include steroids and cortisone injections. Steroids can be taken orally or administered as injections. Steroid and cortisone injections are administered near the infected joint. These injections target inflammation to improve joint function and reduce discomfort.

Hand Surgery

When arthritis is advanced, or when other treatments have proven ineffective, our doctors may recommend hand surgery to treat arthritis.

There are two main options for treating arthritis through hand surgery. Our doctors can either fuse two bones together, or completely replace the joint that has been affected by arthritis.

When two bones are fused, it creates a stronger and more stable knuckle, but movement will be limited.

Joint replacement has the potential to provide patients with a greater range of motion than bone fusion, but results of joint replacement in the hand are not as reliable as they are with hip or knee replacement.

Our doctors will recommend the most appropriate surgical method for each patient’s unique circumstance.

Contact Us

If you are suffering from arthritis of the hands, you may be able to find some relief through the treatments offered at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin. To learn more about these treatment options, contact us at your earliest convenience by calling (512) 476-2830.

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