Types of Arthritis in Hands, Understanding the Different Forms

If you or someone you know is living with arthritis in their hands, understanding the different types is essential for receiving appropriate treatment. There are various forms of arthritis that can affect the Type of Arthritis in Hands, each with its own unique set of symptoms and treatment options. In this article, we will dive into the specifics of each type of arthritis and explore how to manage the symptoms.

Osteoarthritis in Hands

type of arthritis in hands

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that affects the hands. It is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the cartilage—the cushioning tissue between bones—breaks down, causing bones to rub against each other. This leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints, which can be particularly debilitating in the hands.

Causes: The exact causes of osteoarthritis in hands are not known, but there are several risk factors that can increase a person’s likelihood of developing the condition, including:

  • Age
  • Gender (women are more likely to develop hand osteoarthritis)
  • Genetics
  • Prior hand injuries
  • Repetitive hand movements

Symptoms: Symptoms of hand osteoarthritis can vary from person to person, but common signs include:

  • Pain, especially when gripping or grasping objects
  • Stiffness, particularly after periods of inactivity or rest
  • Swelling, warmth, and tenderness around the affected joints
  • A decreased range of motion in the fingers and wrist
  • Bony nodules or bumps, known as Heberden’s and Bouchard’s nodes, may develop on the finger joints

Treatment: Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are several treatment options available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These include:

  • Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and topical creams
  • Physical therapy to strengthen hand muscles and improve range of motion
  • Splints or braces to support the affected joints
  • Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss and avoiding repetitive hand movements
  • Surgical interventions, such as joint replacement or fusion, for severe cases


While osteoarthritis in hands is not always preventable, there are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on joints
  • Avoiding repetitive hand motions and overuse injuries
  • Taking breaks during activities that require prolonged hand use
  • Using ergonomic tools and aids to reduce stress on the hands and wrists

If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis in your hands, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Rheumatoid Arthritis in Hands

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints of the hands. RA can affect anyone, but it is more common in women and typically develops in middle age.

RA symptoms in the hands can include swelling, redness, warmth, and deformities like nodules and joint dislocation. These symptoms can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as opening jars and gripping objects.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Early diagnosis is crucial for effectively managing RA in the hands. A healthcare provider can diagnose RA through physical exams, blood tests, and imaging studies like X-rays and MRIs.

Treatment for RA in the hands is aimed at reducing inflammation and managing pain. Medications like disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used. Physical and occupational therapy, joint protection techniques, and splinting can also be effective in managing symptoms.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications can also play a role in managing RA symptoms in the hands. Quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.

Stress reduction techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, may also help manage RA symptoms.


Rheumatoid arthritis can significantly impact the hands, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. But with early diagnosis and proper treatment, RA in the hands can be managed effectively, allowing individuals to maintain their quality of life.

Psoriatic Arthritis in Hands

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can affect the joints of the hands and fingers. It typically develops in individuals who have psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by scaly patches and redness.

Symptoms of PsA in the hands may include swelling, stiffness, pain, and tenderness in the joints. These symptoms may occur in one or both hands and may affect multiple joints.

PsA can be a progressive disease, leading to irreversible joint damage if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to seek early diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of PsA in the hands typically involves a physical examination, medical history review, and imaging tests. Blood tests may also be ordered to rule out other conditions.

Treatment options for PsA in the hands include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and manage pain. In severe cases, biologic medications may be recommended.

Physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve joint mobility and function. Hand splints or braces may also be recommended to support the affected joints and reduce pain.

Lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods, may also help manage PsA symptoms in the hands.

Tip: If you have psoriasis and are experiencing joint pain or stiffness in your hands, speak to your doctor about the possibility of PsA.

Gout in Hands

Gout is a type of arthritis that can also affect the hands. It occurs when there is an excessive buildup of uric acid in the body, leading to the formation of urate crystals in the joints. When these crystals accumulate in the joints of the hands, they can cause sudden and intense pain, swelling, redness, and warmth.

type of arthritis in hands

The symptoms of gout in the hands can be mistaken for other types of arthritis. However, there are some distinctive features that can help differentiate gout from other conditions. For instance, gout attacks often occur suddenly, usually at night, and can last for several days. The pain tends to be severe and comes with a burning sensation.

If you suspect you have gout in your hands, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may perform some tests, such as blood tests and/or joint fluid analysis, to confirm the presence of urate crystals.

Treatment Options for Gout in Hands Benefits Considerations
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Effective in relieving pain and inflammation. May cause stomach upset and increase the risk of bleeding, especially in people with a history of ulcers or bleeding disorders. Should be used cautiously in people with kidney problems.
Colchicine Can help reduce inflammation and pain during gout attacks. May cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Should not be used in people with liver or kidney problems.
Corticosteroids Can be given orally or injected to relieve pain and inflammation during severe gout attacks. May have side effects, such as weight gain, high blood pressure, mood swings, and increased susceptibility to infections. Should be used cautiously and under medical supervision.
Lifestyle modifications Can help prevent gout attacks and reduce the severity of symptoms. Examples include drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks, losing weight if overweight, and eating a balanced diet. May require significant changes to one’s diet and lifestyle habits. Should be done in consultation with a medical professional and/or registered dietitian.

Managing gout in the hands involves not only treating the acute symptoms but also preventing future attacks and complications. This may involve a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and self-care strategies. You may also need to see a rheumatologist or a specialist in gout management for further evaluation and advice.

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in Hands

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects children and teenagers. It is characterized by inflammation in one or more joints for a period of at least six weeks, with no other identifiable cause. The hands and fingers are commonly affected, and symptoms can include stiffness, swelling, and pain.

Diagnosing JIA in children can be challenging, as the symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, and there is no definitive test for the disease. A comprehensive evaluation, including a physical exam, medical history, and imaging tests, may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for JIA in the hands typically involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Medications may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologic agents, and corticosteroids. Physical therapy can help maintain joint flexibility and strength, while occupational therapy can provide strategies for managing daily activities and minimizing joint damage.

Kids with JIA may also require psychological support, as the disease can have a significant impact on their emotional and social well-being. Support groups and counseling can help children and their families cope with the challenges of living with a chronic illness.

It’s important for parents and caregivers to work closely with their child’s healthcare team to manage JIA in the hands effectively. With proper treatment and support, kids with JIA can lead full and active lives.

Other Forms of Arthritis in Hands

type of arthritis in hands

In addition to the more common forms of arthritis in hands, there are other types that are less prevalent but still significant. Understanding the different forms of arthritis can help with accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Here are some of the other forms of arthritis that can affect the hands:

Arthritis Type Characteristics Treatment Options
Reactive Arthritis Develops after an infection in another part of the body; can cause joint pain and swelling in the hands Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy
Infectious Arthritis Caused by a bacterial or viral infection; can cause joint pain and swelling in the hands Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, joint drainage
Lupus Arthritis Associated with lupus, an autoimmune disease; can cause joint pain and inflammation in the hands Anti-inflammatory medication, immunosuppressants, corticosteroids

While these forms of arthritis in hands may not be as common as others, it’s still important to be aware of their potential symptoms and treatment options. If you experience any joint pain or stiffness in your hands, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Managing Arthritis Symptoms in Hands

Living with arthritis in the hands can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are some tips for managing arthritis symptoms in the hands:

Pain Management

For many people with arthritis, pain is one of the most significant and debilitating symptoms. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain. For more severe pain, opioids may be prescribed with caution. It is important to discuss pain management strategies with your doctor and to use medications only as directed.

Joint Protection Techniques

Protecting your joints can help prevent further damage and reduce pain. Simple techniques such as using assistive devices to open jars or avoiding activities that strain your hands can make a big difference. Occupational therapists can help you learn specific techniques for protecting your hands during daily activities.

Assistive Devices

Assistive devices such as splints, braces, and grips can help support your joints and reduce pain. Talk to your doctor or occupational therapist about the best options for your needs.

Self-Care Strategies

Self-care strategies such as heat or cold therapy, gentle exercises, and rest can provide relief for arthritis symptoms. Listening to your body and taking breaks when needed can also help manage pain and fatigue.

A Multidisciplinary Approach

Arthritis is a complex condition that can affect many aspects of your life. A multidisciplinary approach that includes your doctor, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and other healthcare professionals can provide a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

Lifestyle Changes for Arthritis in Hands

While medical treatments are often necessary for managing arthritis symptoms in the hands, lifestyle changes can also have a significant impact. These modifications can help reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness, as well as improve overall joint function and mobility.


Regular exercise can help keep joints and muscles healthy and strong, which can reduce pain and improve flexibility. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling are ideal for individuals with hand arthritis. Stretching exercises can also be helpful for improving range of motion and reducing stiffness. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best exercise plan for your needs.

Diet Modifications

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help manage symptoms of hand arthritis. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed, can help reduce inflammation. Additionally, antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can help fight inflammation and improve overall health. Processed foods, fried foods, and sugary drinks should be avoided or limited.

Stress Reduction

Stress can exacerbate arthritis symptoms, so it is important to find ways to manage stress levels. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can be helpful for reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the strain on joints and improve overall joint health. Losing weight can reduce inflammation and pain in the hands and other joints. Consulting with a physician or registered dietician can be helpful for developing a weight management plan.

Assistive Devices

Using assistive devices such as splints and braces can help protect the joints in the hands and reduce pain and inflammation. Additionally, using ergonomic tools such as keyboards, pens, and utensils can reduce strain on the hands and improve function.

Self-Care Strategies

Practicing good self-care can also help manage symptoms of hand arthritis. This includes getting enough restful sleep, taking breaks during repetitive tasks, and avoiding activities that exacerbate pain. Additionally, practicing gentle joint exercises and massages can help reduce stiffness and pain.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies for Hand Arthritis

While traditional medical treatments for arthritis in hands can be effective, some patients may also wish to explore alternative or complementary therapies. These treatments can offer additional relief and support in managing symptoms, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before trying anything new.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. Some studies have shown that acupuncture can help reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis in hands. It is generally considered safe when performed by a licensed practitioner.


Massage therapy can help improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and decrease muscle tension in the hands and fingers. It can be particularly effective when used in combination with other therapies, such as physical therapy or medication.

Herbal Remedies

Some herbs and supplements have been shown to have anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving properties that may be beneficial for arthritis in hands. Examples include ginger, turmeric, and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is important to use caution when taking any supplements, as they can interact with medications or have unwanted side effects.

Mind-body Techniques

Mind-body techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. These techniques can be particularly helpful in managing arthritis symptoms, which can be exacerbated by stress and tension.

It is important to note that alternative and complementary therapies should not be used in place of traditional medical treatments, but rather as an addition to them.

FAQ – Common Questions about Arthritis in Hands

Arthritis in hands can be a challenging condition to manage, but with proper knowledge and resources, it can be controlled. Here are some frequently asked questions about arthritis in hands:

What are the most common symptoms of hand arthritis?

The most common symptoms of hand arthritis include pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion in the affected joints. It can also cause deformities or bumps to form on the joints. In some cases, there may be a feeling of warmth or tenderness in the affected areas.

What causes arthritis in hands?

Arthritis in hands can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, genetics, injury, infection, and wear and tear. In some cases, it may be due to an underlying autoimmune disease.

How is arthritis in hands diagnosed?

To diagnose arthritis in hands, a doctor may perform a physical examination, order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs, and conduct blood tests to rule out underlying conditions. They may also ask about symptoms and medical history.

What are the treatment options for hand arthritis?

Treatment options for hand arthritis may include medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or surgery. Pain management techniques, such as hot or cold therapy and the use of assistive devices, may also be recommended.

Can lifestyle changes help manage arthritis symptoms?

Yes, lifestyle changes can be an effective way to manage arthritis symptoms in the hands. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress reduction, and weight management are all beneficial. Additionally, avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms and using proper joint protection techniques can help reduce pain and stiffness.

Are there any alternative therapies that can help with arthritis in hands?

Yes, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies may help reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis in hands. However, it is important to discuss these options with a healthcare provider to ensure they are safe and effective.

How can I best manage my arthritis symptoms?

Managing arthritis symptoms in the hands requires a comprehensive approach that involves working with healthcare providers, staying informed about the condition, and utilizing a variety of treatment options. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms, and protecting the affected joints are also key components of a successful management plan.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.