Pain In Hands And Fingers Not Arthritis
Experiencing pain in your hands and fingers is a common occurrence, and most people will experience this type of pain at some point in their lives. The most common assumption is that this kind of pain is caused by arthritis, but the truth is that although this kind of pain can be caused by arthritis in some cases, finger and hand pain has a variety of causes that may have other origins. Read below to learn that the pain in hands and fingers not arthritis-related may be linked to other underlying problems.
What are the common causes of arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects your joints, causing pain and difficulty in movement. Arthritis has a variety of causes, which we will outline below.
Overusing joint results in wear and tear
When your joints are subjected to repeated stress from activities such as sports and lifting heavy objects, this places strain on your cartilage, which can quicken its breakdown and result in arthritis conditions.
The risk of the onset of arthritis increases as you age. As we age, we tend to have less and less water in our cartilage makeup, which makes it more difficult for joints to absorb the shock experienced from various activities, and to cushion the joints from abrasion from other joints.
Certain injuries that your joints experience can set the precedent for arthritis development later on in life. In many cases, injuries don’t heal adequately, which leads to faster cartilage degeneration and can lead to arthritis.
Being overweight or obese puts a lot of pressure on your joints, particularly those in your spine between your vertebrae, known as vertebral joints. In addition, joints such as your knees and your hips take the strain with extra weight, which leads to cartilage degeneration and eventually, arthritis.
Some autoimmune disorders can lead to arthritis. A type of autoimmune arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Without an autoimmune disorder, your body’s immune system attacks foreign and unhealthy cells preventing them from causing disease in your body.
With an autoimmune disease, your body’s immune system wrongly attacks healthy and normal cells in your body. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the body attacks the lining between your joints, resulting in inflammation that can cause arthritis, pain, swelling, and inflammation in other areas of your body.
Research has found that there is a strong link to genetics and the development of arthritis. This means that arthritis can tend to run in families, although the full impact of genetics is still not completely understood. However, the impact of genetics can lessen the intensity of arthritic symptoms if healthy lifestyle choices are made, such as maintaining a healthy weight.
Muscle weakness is often caused by a lack of exercise or a muscle injury, but muscle weakness (despite having several causes in and of itself) can also contribute to the development and progression of arthritis.
Muscle weakness affects the stability and mobility of your joints. Lack of mobility results in accelerated degeneration of the cartilage between your joints, resulting in arthritis.
Conditions that are not arthritis but cause pain in the fingers and hands
Not all pain experienced in your hands and fingers has arthritis as an underlying cause. In fact, there are several other explanations for what might be causing you pain in your hands and fingers.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is compression on a nerve that runs through your wrist, which results in prickling, numbness, and pain in your hands and fingers.
Carpal tunnel is often caused by repetitive actions on your wrists, such as repeated bending or hard gripping. These repeated actions aggravate your median nerve, which results in symptoms such as pain in your hands and fingers.
De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis
This type of condition results in pain in your tendons primarily around your thumb and along the sides of your wrist. Pain is more pronounced when turning your wrist, making a fist, or through any gripping action. Repetitive actions can make this type of condition worse, and thus worsen the symptoms and pain.
This is a type of condition that impacts the tendons in the hand, resulting in difficulty in bending your fingers. Most commonly, this condition affects the thumbs, causing it to be named ‘trigger thumb,’ but it can affect any of the fingers.
As with the above conditions, a defining characteristic is pain at the base of the affected finger or fingers, and stiffness and clicking when the affected fingers are moved.
Ganglion cysts are benign and non-cancerous lumps that grow most commonly along the tendons and joints of your hands and wrists, but can also develop in the ankles and feet. The cysts are filled with fluid and are typically round-shaped.
These cysts can cause hand and finger pain, particularly if they are pressing on a nerve running into your hands and fingers. They can also be located in precarious spots and can disturb the normal movement of your joints.
How is hand and finger pain treated?
Typically, hand and finger pain can be treated with help provided by a physical therapist. In the case of something like a ganglion cyst, it may be suggested by a doctor that the cyst is first drained of all its fluid with a needle before commencing with any kind of physical therapy.
Complaints related to stiffness in the hand and fingers, such as that related to the condition of the trigger finger, necessitate treatment that is focused on stretching the affected finger to reduce the stiffness and gradually increase mobility.
Exercises provided by physical therapists are typically gentle and allow a gradual increase in movement to prevent further damage to the tendons in your hands and fingers.
In more serious cases where mobility and pain do not improve, cortisone or steroid injections may be prescribed by a doctor to directly address inflammation and pain.
In severe cases where physical therapy and even injections are not helping with pain, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to release strained or compressed tendons that are causing the pain. Surgery is particularly common with carpal tunnel syndrome to release pressure on the median nerve.
To Sum Things Up
Finger and hand pain can be caused by arthritis, but it is important to remember that arthritis is not the only cause of finger and hand pain. Conditions such as carpal tunnel, trigger finger, ganglion cysts, and autoimmune diseases can also be causes of the pain experienced in your hands and fingers and are often underpinned by strenuous and repetitive actions.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or pain in hands and fingers not arthritis-related, it is a good idea to request an appointment with a professional orthopedic doctor to figure out the cause of your pain, and give you a suitable treatment so that your mobility and comfort is restored.
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