Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common types of arthritis whose hallmark feature is symmetrical inflammation that usually affects mainly the joints in the hands and feet. “Symmetrical inflammation” means it occurs in the same joints on both sides of the body.
RA is a progressive disease that can lead to significant functional limitations and, ultimately, to permanent disability if not properly managed. You use your hands for many of the important things you do every day, so the last thing you want is to be rendered unable to use them. That is why if you experience the symptoms of RA, namely hand pain, stiffness, swelling, warmth, and tenderness; fatigue; fever; and loss of appetite, you should see an orthopedic doctor, specifically one who specializes in upper-extremity issues.
While there is currently no known cure for RA, remission is highly achievable with early and aggressive intervention. Let’s explore the different treatment options available for hand rheumatoid arthritis.
Medications are crucial for preventing joint damage and controlling inflammation. The type of medications your doctor will recommend will depend on the severity of your symptoms as well as how long you’ve had RA.
Your doctor may prescribe a combination of the following medications:
- NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) (e.g., Aleve, Motrin, Advil, etc.) – This type of medications helps alleviate the pain and swelling.
- Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone) – These also provide quick symptom relief and prevent joint damage.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) – The mainstay of treatment for RA, DMARDs work by suppressing your body’s immune responses, thereby controlling inflammation and preventing the progression of the disease.
Physical or Occupational Therapy
Your orthopedic doctor may also recommend that you see a physical or occupational therapist, who can teach you how to use assistive devices and new ways of carrying out your day-to-day tasks without putting stress on your hand joints.
Your therapist can also teach you exercises aimed at both relieving your symptoms and improving your hand joints’ range of motion, strength, and overall function. Your exercises can include finger bend, thumb bend, hand clench, flat-hand finger lifts, among others.
Surgery is often a last-resort intervention, recommended only when an extensive course of conservative treatment fails to provide adequate symptom relief.
Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend any of the following procedures:
- Wrist or finger synovectomy- This procedure is carried out to remove the inflamed lining of your finger or wrist joint (synovium) with the goal of reducing pain and improving its function and range of motion.
- Wrist arthrodesis- Commonly known as wrist fusion, this type of surgery involves your doctor immobilizing your wrist by attaching the radius to the carpal bones using plates, rods, or pins. The goal of the procedure is to provide symptom relief as well as restore the stability and strength of your wrist.
- Total joint replacement – This procedure involves your surgeon replacing the damaged joints in your fingers and/or wrist with prosthetic components to address your symptoms and restore normal joint function.
Hand Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in Miami Lakes and Plantation, FL
Here at The Orthopaedic Hand and Arm Center in Miami Lakes and Planation, Florida, board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Tosca Kinchelow is best known for her compassionate approach to care and her dedication to providing unmatched treatment outcomes for the full array of upper-extremity problems. Whether what you have is hand rheumatoid arthritis, wrist fracture, elbow tendinitis, or a rotator cuff tear, you can count on Dr. Kinchelow to help you move freely and get back to living your best life again.
Arrange a consultation with Dr. Kinchelow today. Contact our friendly staff at (888) 908-9036. You may also use our appointment request form.