Arthritis in the joints of the hand can be as a result of osteoarthritis which is wear and tear to the cartilage or rheumatoid arthritis which is an inflammatory response by the body which results in cartilage damage. Joints that have had previous trauma or injury are more susceptible to arthritis.
Early symptoms include joint pain particularly after periods of increased joint use. The pain may be delayed and show up later in the day or the following day. Morning pain and stiffness is typical. There may be swelling around the joint, in an attempt to cushion it from further damage, as well as warmth. There may be a grinding sensation in the joint or looseness to the joint if the surrounding ligaments have been damaged.
Non-surgical: Initial treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections into the joint and/or splinting to support the affected joint.
Surgical: If non-surgical management fails to provide relief surgery may be offered. This consists of fusion of the joint or joint replacement if the damage is extensive.
Recovery time varies widely depending on the extent of the surgery performed. Rehabilitation will usually include referral to a hand therapist, use of a splint or cast and pain medication. Most people can return to normal daily activities approximately three months after even extensive joint reconstruction.