Arthritis is a disease that occurs in the cartilage of the joints; and is the result of acute or chronic inflammation after a trauma. The disease can come in many forms but the most common is osteoarthritis; this affects the cartilage that lines the joints causing them to deteriorate and thus losing their cushioning ability. As the joints rub together structural changes will be visible if a sufferer has an X-ray. Arthritis commonly causes the sufferer pain, deformity and sometimes stiffness.
Osteoarthritis can affect one or several joints anywhere in the body; hands and weight-bearing joints are the most vulnerable. Osteoarthritis causes joint cartilage to gradually worsen over time; and if not treated as soon as possible can limit a sufferer’s day to day activities. This disease is normally associated with age of the patient but there are other factors;
- If there is joint instability or misalignment then this can affect the impact of pressure on the joint and thus lead to degeneration.
- Untreated injuries which are traumatic can cause joint irregularity.
- Some may inherit the gene that can cause them to develop this disease in uncommon joints.
It is recorded that a staggering 21 million Americans who are 25 or older suffer with osteoarthritis; is more common in older patients but younger patients can develop it through injury or genetic bone defects. Obesity can also be a risk factor as pressure is added on to the joints; causes the cartilage to gradually wear and tear over time.
Most osteoarthritis cases are symptomless but a few sufferers can experience the following;
- When joints move there is a sensation of grinding or the sound of crunching.
- Motion is restricted in the affected joints.
- Pain or stiffness in the joints
- Mucus cysts forming near the ends of fingers
Hand osteoarthritis commonly affects the following parts of the hand;
- Within the joint that is found at the base of the thumb.
- In the joint right at the end of the finger; swellings, medically known as Heberden’s Nodes, may form here.
- At the joint in the middle finger; swellings, medically known as Bouchard’s Nodes, may form here.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms explored above there are many private hospitals in Cornwall, London or throughout the UK, which offer hand surgery to improve the condition. Pain is the indication that something is not right meaning that a sufferer should not simply ignore discomfort in the joints.