Finger osteoarthritis

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Finger osteoarthritis is a prevalent condition among postmenopausal women. As a degenerative joint disease, the cartilage in the finger joints steadily wear out.

Injuries to the fingers such as a sprain or fracture can damage the cartilage. Even if an injury does not directly result to cartilage damage, it can disrupt how the joint functions. The joints might be misaligned after healing from an injury. These irregularities can strain the joint which damages the cartilage later.

How is it diagnosed?

When diagnosing finger osteoarthritis, the doctor will assess the medical history of the individual including any injuries responsible for the condition.

Finger osteoarthritis
Injuries to the fingers such as a sprain or fracture can damage the cartilage.

A physical exam involves assessment of the range of motion in the affected finger joints and the movements that instigate pain. The formation of the characteristic nodes can also help in the diagnosis of finger osteoarthritis. An X-ray is requested by the doctor to check images of joint damage to determine the amount of cartilage left.

What are the indications?

The signs linked with finger osteoarthritis include the following:

  • Finger pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness or rigidity
  • Formation of nodes
  • Reduced range of motion or grip strength

Generally, the pain is felt upon starting an activity and later settles as the activity progresses. Once the activity is stopped and during rest, the discomfort and rigidity returns. In advanced cases of osteoarthritis, the pain can be felt even while at rest.

Management of finger osteoarthritis

Some of the conservative measures are used first which includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs or aspirin
  • Cortisone shots into the joint
  • Lowering the activity level
  • Adjusting or changing activities that require repeated finger movements
  • Splinting
  • Physical therapy that includes range of motion exercises and strengthening
  • Occupational therapy
  • Application of heat
  • Topical rubs

In case the conservative measures are not effective, surgery is the last option.

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