Many arthritis affects the hands. An arthritis whose typicality is to strike the hands is rheumatoid arthritis , an autoimmune disease characterized by a chronic inflammatory state or which causes pain, swelling and joint stiffness.
The most affected joints, in addition to those of the hands, are those of the wrists and feet but, apart from the back-lumbosacral column. Any joint can be affected, even that between the I and II cervical vertebra (atlanto-epistrofeica).
The joint degeneration process that results from arthritis can lead to the limitation of the movements and functionality of the affected joints .
Osteoarthritis can also cause pain and deformity in the hands and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two diseases except for the more typical localization of the distal interphalangeal fingers of the arthrosis than the localization of the proximal interphalangeal fingers of the most typical of arthritis.
What is arthritis in the hands?
Rheumatoid arthritis in the hands and wrists usually occurs symmetrically. The chronic inflammatory state typical of this autoimmune disease can lead to a complete destruction of the joint structures affected by the pathology.
Arthritis can affect people of any age, but it is more common in women between 40 and 50 years old.
What are the causes of arthritis in the hands?
Although the cause of this pathology is not yet known, development is believed to be favored by the co-presence of various factors (environmental, genetic, hormonal and infectious). This form of arthritis is triggered by an abnormal activation of the immune system against the membrane that lines the joints (synovial membrane).
What are the symptoms of arthritis in the hands?
The typical manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis are the presence of joint inflammation which manifests itself with redness, swelling, pain and stiffness .
The sites most affected by arthritis in the hands are the metacarpophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints , in addition to the wrists .
In addition to the joints, arthritis in the hands can also involve the surrounding tendons, causing deformity in the fingers. Tiredness, general malaise, weight loss, muscle soreness, fever, dry eyes and mouth are other non-articular symptoms that are often reported by people suffering from this condition.
Recognizing the symptoms and signs reported by the patient and observed during the medical examination are essential to making the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis .
Some tests may also help the doctor in defining the diagnosis:
- Blood analysis
- Radiography skeletal system
- Tendon muscle ultrasound
- MRI skeletal muscle
Since there is no definitive cure for this disease , the goal of currently administered treatments is to reduce symptoms and stop damage before they become permanently impairing joint function.
There are four classes into which the drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis are usually divided :
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): they are used to reduce joint inflammation and the intensity of symptoms, but have no effect on the progression of the disease;
- corticosteroids: they intervene on inflammation in both early and late stages, but their use must be carried out under control and limited due to the important side effects they can give rise to;
- DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs): they are drugs that can greatly improve the symptoms, joint function and quality of life of most patients with rheumatoid arthritis;
- biotechnological drugs : they act in a targeted way on some molecules produced by the body of those affected by this pathology and which are harmful to the joints and organs possibly involved.
Since rheumatoid arthritis has autoimmune origins, it is very difficult to talk about prevention. However, some virtuous behaviors can however be put into practice to improve joint well-being. In general, therefore, it is good to therefore avoid conditions such as overweight and obesity (excess weight contributes to the inflammation of the joints), do not smoke and remain physically active to preserve the elasticity of the joints for as long as possible.