Hand Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes, Normal Healing Cycle & Treatment

Hand Arthritis Pain Treatment

Introduction

Arthritis in the hands may take the form of hand rheumatoid arthritis and hand osteoarthritis. Arthritis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the joint associated with structural damage and pain. Symptomatic osteoarthritis of the hand is a prevalent condition, affecting approximately 10% of the total general population. The global burden of hand osteoarthritis can be comparable to the severity and health burden of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand is an immune-mediated condition affecting the synovial joints. In the hand, rheumatoid arthritis may involve the wrist joints, metacarpophalangeal joints, and proximal interphalangeal joints. (1, 2, 3) This article describes the symptoms, causes, and risk factors of hand arthritis and associated pain. The article also elaborates on the effective and ineffective treatments of hand arthritis pain.

Symptoms of Hand Arthritis Pain

The symptoms of hand arthritis pain are as follows.

  1. Stiffness of the fingers
  2. Dropping objects from the hand
  3. Weak fine motor skills
  4. Weak hand grip

Causes and Risk Factors of Hand Arthritis Pain

The causes and risk factors associated with the development of hand arthritis pain are as follows.

  1. Diabetes mellitus
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis
  3. Osteoarthritis
  4. Hereditary
  5. Repetitive movements of the hand
  6. Obesity

Normal Healing Cycle and Chronic Conditions

Prior to a discussion about the ineffective and effective treatments of hand arthritis pain, it is important to have a basic understanding of how the normal healing cycle works. The key stages of the healing cycle are the inflammation stage, proliferation stage, and maturation stage. The details of each stage including the underlying mechanisms are described as follows. (4)

The inflammation stage is the initial stage of the healing cycle. The cardinal signs of inflammation include pain, loss of function, swelling, redness, and warmth. This stage of the healing cycle is characterized by the recruitment of inflammatory and immune cells which are associated with the release of cytokines and inflammatory mediators. After the resolution of the inflammation stage and elimination of the offending agent, the healing cycle progresses to the next stage, the proliferation stage.

The second stage of the healing cycle is the proliferation stage. This stage is characterized by the formation of new blood vessels, production of extracellular matrix, the deposition of collagen, and re-epithelization of the wound site. Negative feedback mechanisms regulate the proliferation stage of the healing cycle. This inhibits excessive scar tissue formation and collagen deposition by proliferating fibroblasts.

The maturation stage of the healing cycle is the last stage and is characterized by the resolution of the healing cycle. During this stage, wound contraction and scar formation occur. Type I collagen replaces type III collagen in the scar tissue.

In the case of chronic conditions, the healing cycle does not progress through maturation or resolution. Instead, the healing cycle oscillates between the inflammation and proliferation stages. The persistence of these stages contributes to the development of excess scar tissue, fascia restrictions, and muscle trigger points. These not only restrict the movements but also elicit pain.

Ineffective Treatments for Hand Arthritis Pain

Following are the different ineffective treatment strategies commonly used for the alleviation of hand arthritis pain.

  1. Massage therapy
  2. Massage therapy using a foam roller
  3. Application f heat and ice therapy
  4. Electrical stimulation of the hand
  5. Mobilization of the hand
  6. Stretching of the hand
  7. Strength exercises during the inflammation stage of the healing cycle

Effective Treatments for Hand Arthritis Pain

Effective treatments of hand arthritis pain involve lifestyle or functional modifications along with the resolution of the persistent inflammation and proliferation stages of the healing cycle. Effective therapeutic strategies for the alleviation of hand arthritis pain are as follows.

  1. One shall avoid triggering factors that elicit hand arthritis pain such as repetitive movements of the hand.
  2. Useful strategies for the resolution of the inflammation stage of the healing cycle and alleviation of hand arthritis pain are as follows. (5, 6, 7)
    1. MagnaHeal devices are made of neodymium magnet and anti-inflammatory substances. These devices employ magnetic fields to modulate pain and inflammation in hand arthritis. There are two types of devices that are different on the basis of magnetic force length and the severity of inflammation. MagnaHeal 1 with a magnetic force length of 2 inches and MagnaHeal 2 with a magnetic force length of 3 inches are useful for the alleviation of mild and severe inflammation respectively.
    2. One shall consume an anti-inflammatory for modulating inflammation. This diet contains plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The diet contains lesser amounts of refined carbohydrates and trans fat.
    3. AskASTR program is a useful tool for the identification of nutrient deficiencies, as these may hinder the process of inflammation. This program also recommends nutrient supplements to address nutrient deficiencies and promote the resolution of the inflammation stage of the healing cycle.
  3. Useful strategies for the resolution of the proliferation stage of the healing cycle and alleviation of hand arthritis pain are as follows. These strategies focus on the release of fascia restrictions, excessive scar tissue, and muscle trigger points that developed during the proliferation stage of the healing cycle in chronic conditions.
    1. A1 Tool is required for the release of fascia restrictions in the aponeurotic and superficial fascia layers.
    2. A3 Tool is required for the release of superficial scar tissue and superficial muscle trigger points or muscle knots.
    3. A5 Tool is required for the release of deep scar tissue and deep muscle trigger points or muscle knots. The tool is also useful for the release of fascia restrictions in the deeper layers including the endomysium, epimysium, and perimysium.

Conclusion

Hand arthritis pain is associated with several conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, repetitive movements of the hand, and obesity. Hand arthritis pain can lead to stiffness of fingers, weak hand grip, weak fine motor skills, and dropping objects. Effective strategies for the alleviation of pain and management of the inflammatory condition include the use of MagnaHeal device, consumption of an anti-inflammatory diet, avoidance of repetitive movements, correcting nutritional deficiencies, and release of excess scar tissue, fascia restrictions, and trigger points.

References

  1. Senthelal S, Li J, Ardeshirzadeh S, et al. Arthritis. [Updated 2022 Jun 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518992/
  2. Richette, P., & Latourte, A. (2021). L’arthrose digitale [Hand Osteoarthritis]. La Revue du praticien71(10), 1118–1120.
  3. Mohammed RHA, Bhutta BS. Hand and Wrist Rheumatoid Arthritis. [Updated 2022 Feb 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560890/
  4. Grubbs H, Manna B. Wound Physiology. [Updated 2022 May 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518964/
  5. Ross, C. L., & Harrison, B. S. (2013). Effect of pulsed electromagnetic field on inflammatory pathway markers in RAW 264.7 murine macrophages. Journal of inflammation research6, 45–51. https://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S40269
  6. Ricker, M. A., & Haas, W. C. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review. Nutrition in clinical practice : official publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition32(3), 318–325. https://doi.org/10.1177/0884533617700353
  7. Gatt A, Agarwal S, Zito PM. Anatomy, Fascia Layers. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526038/