Arthritis of The Hand

By Anita Ballmick MOTR/L

What is Arthritis of The Hand?

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. The hand and wrist have multiple small joints that work together to produce motion, including the fine motion needed to tie a shoelace or to fasten buttons. So, when the joints have arthritis, daily living activities can be difficult to complete independently. Here is a video by Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute on why Hand Pain Can’t Wait

Image of Arthritis of The Hand

Image of Arthritis of The Hand.

Symptoms of Arthritis of The Hand

image of woman with arthritis of the hand

Morning stiffness is a symptom of arthritis of the hand

  • Pain in hands after gripping or grasping tasks.
  • Morning stiffness.
  • Swelling of the joints.
  • Joints may feel warm to the touch.
  • Grating or grinding sensation to the affected joint.
  • Cyst formation.

Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is much more common and generally affects the older population. Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, which causes cartilage to wear away. Osteoarthritis affects the large weight-bearing joints such as the shoulders, knees, hips, spine, and the hands’ small joints, most commonly the thumbs.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that can affect many parts of your body. It causes the joint lining (synovium) to swell, which causes pain and stiffness in the joint. It usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body.

Hand Arthritis Doctors in Jacksonville

A doctor can diagnose arthritis of the hand by examining the hand and by taking x-rays. Most noteworthy, medications can treat symptoms but cannot restore joint cartilage or reverse joint damage. The most common medications for arthritis are anti-inflammatories, which stop the body from producing chemicals that cause joint swelling and pain. JOI has board-certified orthopaedic hand specialists that can help get you on the road to recovery. To find a hand specialist near you click HERE.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Treatment options for arthritis of the hand and wrist include splinting, injections, and surgery. Treatment is depending on diagnosis of:

  • Progression of arthritis.
  • Type and number of joints.
  • Age and level of activity.
  • If the dominant or non-dominant hand is affected.
  • Compliance with exercises and post-surgery protocol.

Related Articles: 4 hand exercises for arthritis  and JOI Hand Therapy


If anti-inflammatory medication is not suitable, steroid injections may be used. These typically contain a long-lasting anesthetic that can provide pain relief for weeks to months. So, this can vary based on several factors. The injections can be repeated, but most surgeons limit the number of times due to possible side effects.


image of ActivArmor splint to stabilize the basal joint of the thumb

Activarmor stabilize the basal joint of the thumb

The splint helps support the affected joint to ease its stress from frequent use and activities. Splints are typically worn when the affected joints are in pain. Furthermore, they allow functional use of the hand when worn and do not restrict functional motion. A hand therapist can assist you in the proper splint and application. Developed and tested in collaboration with the amazing hand therapy staff at Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute, our new push splints stabilize the basal joint of the thumb and place the thumb in a functional position, for optimal hand function and reducing pain and loss of strength. ActivArmor casts are exclusively available at JOI Rehab South and San Marco locations.

Surgical Treatment

There are many surgical options. Certainly, it should be customized to your individual needs. Therefore, you should talk with your surgeon to find out if surgery is right for you.

After Surgery

After any joint reconstruction surgery, there is a phase of recovery. Therefore, you will be referred to a trained hand therapist who can help you maximize your recovery. Therapy can assist with education, modalities, splinting, and any questions you may have. The use of a splint or cast for a while after surgery to protect the repair is common after surgery. A hand therapist can suggest modifications of activities to allow the joint reconstruction to heal properly. Also, the length of recovery time varies widely and depends on the extent of the surgery performed and personal factors.

Related Articles: Anatomy of the Hand and Joint and Bone Health 

JOI and JOI Rehab

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.

By: Anita Ballmick, MOTR/L

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