Always bear in mind that arthritis affects millions of individuals all over the glove. There are two main forms of arthritis that affects the fingers – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. When it comes to osteoarthritis, it is caused by the breakdown of cartilage that provides padding in between the bones in the joints. As for rheumatoid arthritis, it is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to wrongly attack the joint tissues. The initial signs of finger arthritis include warmth, pain, stiffness, swelling and weakness.
Pain and warmth
The joint pain is usually the first indication of finger arthritis. The pain becomes worse during activity especially if the individual has not used the hands for an extended period. Early on, the pain might be minor or short-lived. Nevertheless, it usually becomes severe as the condition progresses.
Osteoarthritis can trigger pain in one or more finger joints, usually affecting the joints at the ends of the fingers as well as the base of the thumb. Rheumatoid arthritis affects several joints and usually develops on the same fingers on both hands. The swollen finger joints might be warm to the touch with rheumatoid arthritis.
In some circumstances, the swelling might be one of the initial symptoms of finger arthritis, even before the pain develops. The fingers might appear puffy especially when waking up in the morning.
The knuckles may look as if they disappeared. This makes it difficult for the individual to hold objects such as a pencil or hairbrush. The swelling might improve throughout the day. The muscle contractions while moving the hands help pump excess fluid out of the fingers. The use of compression gloves while sleeping can help prevent the swelling.
The stiffness of the joints can develop as an early indication of finger arthritis. The individual finds it hard to bend the fingers first thing in the morning especially if the fingers are inflamed. Brushing the teeth, showering and getting dressed might be hard when the fingers are rigid.
If the individual has osteoarthritis, the stiffness can improve within a few minutes as the flow of blood increases to the fingers once they are exposed to warm water or when starting to move. The stiffness might also develop in the evening after a period of rest if the hands were used extensively throughout the day. The stiffness triggered by rheumatoid arthritis usually lasts for hours.
The weakness can indicate early finger arthritis. The individual will notice that he/she starts dropping objects or has difficult turning the doorknob. Since osteoarthritis usually affects the thumb, the individual will have difficulty turning a key or holding a pencil.
The weakness is more evident in the evening when the individual is tired. This sign might be more obvious as the condition progresses and the tissues in the joints start to break down.
When to consult a doctor
A doctor should be consulted so that an accurate diagnosis of the condition can be given. There are also medications that the doctor can prescribe to manage the symptoms of arthritis as well as slow down the progression of finger arthritis.