Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms in Hands

By John Lindell

  • Overview

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the joints of the body, resulting in painful inflammation that can lead to deformities. Rheumatoid arthritis of the hands is particularly troublesome as in its advanced stages it can make such everyday activities as buttoning a shirt nearly impossible. Rheumatoid arthritis is much more common in women than it is in men and although it normally appears in people over 40 there are juvenile forms of it that can affect children.
  • Symptoms

    A person's hands are one of the first places that rheumatoid arthritis usually shows up since the condition in most cases affects the joints that are smaller first. The hands can become stiff with pain in the wrist and joints of the fingers. They can also appear puffy and reddened and shiny, especially in advanced cases. Rheumatoid arthritis makes the joints in the hand swell up and seem tender to the touch. Another symptom found in the hands is morning stiffness which occurs when the person first gets out of bed for the day.
  • Flares

    Like it does in other parts of the body rheumatoid arthritis in the hands can flare up and then disappear. These flare-ups, or flares as they are also called, will cause the symptoms of the condition to be very pronounced and painful and then without warning they can subside. When they do occur they will bring all of the aforementioned symptoms with them, making it hard for a person to use their hands for anything requiring a good deal of dexterity.

  • Effects

    The various joints of the hand may not all be affected in the same manner by the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the joints such as the knuckles or the finger joints may be much more involved than others. While some can be swollen, red and painful others may not be, with no discernible pattern to give the person a clue as to why. An attack of rheumatoid arthritis may make only one or two fingers hurt one time and then the entire hand the next.
  • Types

    Rheumatoid arthritis can precipitate the development of a soft lump that appears on the back of a person's hand. It will move when the tendons that control finger movements move. It can also cause a creaking sound to be heard when the individual moves their hands. Swollen and inflamed fingers and joints may also actually produce a clicking sound when they move and the fingers may feel numb and start to tingle.
  • Warning

    Severe instances of rheumatoid arthritis in the hands can deform the hands horribly, making the fingers gnarled and totally useless. The tendons can rupture, causing the fingers to be unable to straighten out or bend. The joints such as the thumb and wrist will become unstable and some of the fingers can become hyperextended. A condition known as Boutonnière deformity can occur in which the finger's middle joint bends and the joint on the end of the finger becomes hyperextended.

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