Finger arthritis

Arthritis in the small joints of the fingers and thumb is inevitable. Everyone will ultimately develop more prominent, and sometimes lumpy, knuckles with age. That does not mean that the fingers will be painful or not move as smoothly. So, whilst arthritis itself is inevitable, symptoms are not.


Some people do develop symptoms from their finger arthritis. The joints can ache, become stiff, fail to bend or straighten as much, or even deviate to one side as the joint surface slowly collapses. Obviously, these situations can give rise to problems with hand function or stamina for some individuals.


Treatment is available, but will always begin with advice to try and adapt to the situation - either by doing things differently or using different tricks to make life easier - and recommendations to try and avoid painful activities to prevent further damage. There are many gadgets and items available to help with opening tins, pulling electrical plugs out of the socket, tying shoelaces etc, so that disability is minimised.

Resting splints which fit over the fingers can be provided, made to measure, so that they are comfortable and prevent painful movement.

If the discomfort is constant, simple painkillers, such as paracetamol, can often take the edge off pain sufficiently to improve independence and use of the hands.

The arthritic changes are often so widespread around the hands, that surgery is often not practical. When single joints are either very painful or deformed, they can be straightened and permanently stiffened by surgery called fusion (or arthrodesis). Rarely, a false joint made of silicon, metal or graphite is recommended, but these situations are extremely unusual.

Finger arthritis rarely progresses rapidly. There is usually time available to adapt to the situation and make changes to the way things are done without having to resort to more aggressive treatments.

For more information on osteoarthritis in the hand, use this link to the website of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand: steoarthritis of the fingers , or this link to find out more about finger arthritis.

If you are interested in finding out more about rheumatoid arthritis in the hand, then use this link: rheumatoid arthritis of the fingers