Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms in the Wrist

By Christine Lehman

  • Overview

    Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms in the Wrist
    Rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative autoimmune disease affecting over a million Americans. This disease causes pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in some or all the joints in the body. In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the fingers and wrists are often impacted which makes grasping objects difficult.
  • Features

    There are fifteen finger joints on each hand, and six bones that form the palm and wrist. Because there are so many bones in the hands and wrists, the effects of rheumatoid arthritis are commonly most severely felt in these areas. Inflammation in the hands and wrists can make it difficult for people to grasp objects.
  • Symptoms

    In addition to the pain, redness, stiffness and swelling that is evident in all joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, signs of rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist include the presence of a soft movable lump on the back of the hand, a creaking sound in the joints when the hand flexes, tingling in the fingers, and weakness, instability and loss of motion in the wrist.


  • Diagnosis

    An X-ray of the hand and wrist can help your physician determine whether arthritis is rheumatoid or not. There are also blood tests that can be conducted to confirm a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Treatment

    Non-medical treatment can include wearing a splint to stabilize the wrist, applying heat for 20 minute intervals, and lifestyle modifications including rest and limiting the amount of weight lifted with the hands. Two types of medications are available. Anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce the swelling (and, therefore, the pain) in the joints. These can be either prescription or over-the-counter. Another class of medications targets the disease itself and helps keep the bones from degenerating and the disease from progressing.
  • Disease Progression

    The symptoms of RA can be intermittent and depend on the extent to which tissues are swollen. Remission is possible and can be sporadic ranging in time from weeks to years. During remission, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis can feel completely normal before a relapse occurs. Periods of remission and relapse are common in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
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