Symptoms Of Arthritis In Fingers: Causes & Treatment Options

Arthritis is primarily a disease pertaining to joints. A joint is a space where two bones are attached so that the body part can move smoothly. Joint is usually formed with fibrous tissue and cartilage besides the bones. Arthritis is inflammation of joints. There are several joints in the body.

Your fingers too have joints which allow it to bend, become straight or hold any object. As with any joint, arthritis can also develop in finger joints. It can lead to swelling, restricted movement and severe pain in finger.

Arthritis are of three major categories namely; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

All three have common symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling but the underlying cause is different. Treatment of finger arthritis depends on the type of arthritis. Pain killers, warm and cold fomentation, applying splints, intake of joint supplements all help to relieve symptoms of finger arthritis.

What Are The Causes Of Arthritis In Fingers?

Cartilage is thin membrane like structure which allows the smooth gliding of end of two bones in a joint during any act of movement. Arthritis occurs when this cartilage is damaged and degraded. Arthritis basically is classified into three varieties; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid variety and gout.

Osteoarthritis is also known as wear and tear arthritis. It is the most common in finger joints. This condition occurs due to overuse, repetitive movement, injury, and aging. Nearly 50 per cent of elderly aged individuals have mild to moderate form of osteoarthritis of finger. The most frequently affected is knuckles of the middle finger and joint at the base of thumb in case of osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis. It is an autoimmune disease. In this condition body’s own immune system destroys the cartilage by causing inflammatory process in the surrounding soft tissue of the joints.

The disease is systemic but joints symptoms are its first manifestation. Rheumatoid arthritis primarily affects the finger joints, knee joints, elbow and hip joints. Due to inflammation, slowly the cartilage gets disintegrated. The commonly affected joints in this case are knuckles at the base of fingers.

Gout is another disease which occurs due to accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joint. The crystals gradually destroy the cartilage. In gout patient frequently suffers from arthritis of big toe. Sometimes other fingers and toes are also affected.

Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis In Fingers

Finger arthritis is arthritis of small joints. The symptoms are similar to any other joint arthritis. Basic symptoms of finger arthritis are:

  • Early stiffness in finger joints.
  • Pain in fingers which is exaggerated in morning.
  • Swelling of the fingers. Swelling can develop in the affected finger.
  • The inflamed area becomes tender to touch, red and hot.
  • Due to stiffness and pain patient experiences difficulty in any finger movement. He is unable to fold his finger. There is loss of mobility of the finger joint.
  • In case of gout usually only the big toes is affected. It becomes red and hot.
  • Development of lumps or nodes in the joint space of fingers. These nodes are called Heberden’s nodes if they are in distant finger joints. Boucher’s nodes are present in base of finger joints. The nodes or lumps are actually bone spurs formed due to repeated rubbing of two tiny finger bones against each other because the cartilage is destroyed.
  • Over a period of time the joint of finger becomes deformed. This leads to abnormal shape of the finger.

Alternative Treatment For Arthritis In Fingers

Treatment is aimed at alleviating the symptoms so that patient may not need surgical repair of the deformed finger. Treatment consists of:

  • Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines. Patient must always take medicines that are prescribed by his physician because many pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines have side effects.
  • Joint supplements are useful in reducing the destruction of the cartilage after it has begun. These supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are found to be building blocks of cartilage.
  • In severe form of finger arthritis, doctors often use cortisone infections at the affected site.
  • Physiotherapy helps to improve movement and reduce stiffness.
  • Alternate ice and warm fomentation is beneficial in alleviating pain and stiffness present in early morning.
  • In some cases use of splints is found beneficial.
  • Homeopathic medicines such as Anti Crud, Actea spicata, are excellent for relieving pain caused due to rheumatoid arthritis of finger.
  • Lastly if all the measures fail surgery may be needed to relieve the symptoms.