What To Do For Painful Arthritis In The Hands. 

 August 26, 2022

By  Linda Rook

Wonky Arthritic Hand


Hands have many joints and is common to get arthritis in the base of the thumbs (where the thumb meets the wrist), the knuckles and the two joints in your fingers.

Arthritis in the hand, unfortunately, cannot be prevented. But you can look out for symptoms as you get older and go and see your doctor if you notice any changes in your fingers or thumb.

You can also help by eating healthier, keeping a healthy weight and much more…

You are likely to get arthritic hands if you come under one or more of these categories:

  • Osteoarthritis is common in the elderly after the age of 50.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis appears between the age of 35 and 50.
  • If you are a woman.
  • If you are white.
  • If you are overweight or obese.
  • If you've had an injury before, for example dislocated or broken any joints in he hand or fingers.
  • Or if it is hereditary.
Elderly Gent with walking stick

Different arthritis. 

The common types of arthritis in which you can get are osteoarthritis or OA, rheumatoid arthritis or RA, gout or psoriatic arthritis.


When you get osteoarthritis or OA of the fingers, you suffer from joint wear and tear or degenerative arthritis.

You have a cartilage in your joints that cushions the bones, so that you can smoothly bend your joints. 

Arthritis breaks down these cartilages by wearing it away.  Over time you may hear your bones creaking when you move. You will also have stiffness and, over time, loss of movement.

Osteoarthritis of the hand normally affects the wrist and the two joints in your fingers. You may also have bony lumps appearing in the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA of the fingers, is a chronic inflammatory disease. This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease where your healthy tissues and the immune system attack itself.

The inflammation causes your joint lining called synovium to swell, which causes pain, stiffness and loss of function.

The synovium is where the fluid or lubrication allows your cartilage to move easily. 

However, over time the inflammation will destroy the cartilage at the joint end, eroding the bone itself. The joint then loses shape and alignments as the tendons and ligaments weaken. Rheumatoid arthritis affects both left and right sides of the body. For example, if you develop RA in your middle left finger, you will get it in your middle right finger.

Psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects your skin (psoriasis) and your joints. The fingers will start swelling and also feel joint pain and stiffness, especially in the morning. The symptoms are similar to RA.


Gout is caused by producing excess or can’t get rid of uric acid in the blood. Therefore, acid crystals may form in the joints.

The crystals may develop in the tendons that are near the joint. When this happens, your joints become swollen, painful and red looking.

When you get a gouty finger, it looks like a sausage.


The early symptoms of arthritis in the hand are the following:

  • You may get a dull or burning feeling in the joints of your hand or fingers after increased use.
  • First thing in the morning, your hands may be stiff and painful.
  • You may have swollen joints.

When you’ve had an arthritic hand(s) for some time, the symptoms could become:

  • More present and more often.
  • Dull ache will change to sharp pain.
  • You may be woken up in the night with the pain.
  • The tissues that surround the affected joint could become red and tender.
  • You'll hear and feel grinding, cracking or clicking noises when you move your fingers.
  • You may not be able to do a fist or straighten your fingers.
  • Bony nodules may develop on the middle joints of the finger called Bouchard's nodules or the top joints called Heberden's.
  • Your fingers could become abnormally bent and weak.


Your doctor will examine your hand and then send you for an x-ray.

The x-ray will show how arthritis has developed, as they will be able to see how much loss of cartilage around the joints and the development of the bone spurs.

Your doctor can also see if you have rheumatoid arthritis by a blood test.


The treatment you may be given could depend on what stage and the type of arthritis you have. Also, if there is one or more joints affected, your age and what activity you do, also other medical conditions you have?

Arthritis is an incurable disease, so the treatment you may be given is to give you a better lifestyle by:

  • Decreasing the pain and stiffness.
  • Helping with your mobility.
  • Increasing the quality of life.
  • To slow the process of the disease, especially if you have rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.

The options for treating this terrible disease are medication injection or home remedies.


Your doctor or healthcare provider could prescribe you medication that reduces the pain and swelling.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, they may give you drugs to help with the joint damage.

When you have osteoarthritis, the only recommended drugs are NSAIDs that are drug-reducing pain and swelling for a limited time as you need them.

 The drugs listed below are to treat rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Acetaminophen – this first one relieves pain and can be used for osteoarthritis.
  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – reduce pain and swelling. These also can be used for osteoarthritis patients, such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac.
  • DSMADs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) are slow-releasing drugs if you have rheumatoid arthritis. They could be methotrexate or sulfasalazine.
  • Corticosteroids – can be taken by mouth or injection into the muscle. They reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. They include prednisolone and triamcinolone are just two.
  • Immunosuppressive – these drugs slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and decrease the damage to the bone around the joint.
  • Biologic agents – slow down the damage of the joints if you have rheumatoid arthritis. For example, these could be etanercept, infliximab, or abatacept, which are just a few.


The steroids reduce pain and inflammation. Steroids are used when the medication doesn’t control the inflammation or it is only on a few joints. The injection is given straight into the joint; this is because steroids could weaken your tendons and ligaments, and the injections can only be done a couple of times.

I have had a replacement hip leaving me with one leg longer than the other, making my spine wonky. I went for steroid injections, but they were not working after a while. So, I am now living with back pain also in my hip.

Home Remedies.

The following list can help you with inflamed and painful joints in your fingers.

  • Exercises - I know this is painful, but you should do hand exercises. The activities could be strength and stretching exercises.
  • Heat and cold packs – if you are in pain you need a heat pack, as heat will help boost the blood flow and eases the pain.    You should only apply for no longer than twenty minutes at any one time.                                                                                     A cold pack will help with the swelling as it slows down the blood flow that eases the swelling, and again you should only apply it for no longer than twenty minutes at a time.
heat packs
STOP smoking
  • Overweight – you must also lose weight. If you are obese or overweight, you are putting more pressure on your joints.
  • Smoking – if you smoke, you should stop as this can increase your chance of developing arthritis.
  • Therapist – Your doctor may refer you to a physio who can work with you to do an exercise plan at home.
  • Occupational therapy - can teach you how to use any self-help equipment, such as preparing food.
  • Eating habits – you must eat healthy when you have other conditions like diabetes.
  • Regular rest – taking frequent rests can help to relieve the pain and inflammation.


Unfortunately, arthritis is incurable and could be hereditary or getting old, meaning that it is unpreventable.

When you first notice that you have pain stiffness or swelling in your hand for more than a week you must see the doctor.  They can take you to have an x-ray to find out what type of arthritis you have, and treat it appropriately.

There are home remedies that you can do, that will help you to live a better lifestyle.  For instance, if you are overweight you should eat more healthier or if you smoke you should stop, and much more…

I hope this article has helped you.  Please subscribe to my website, and I will keep you updated on new blogs or videos.  Also, if you need to know anything about arthritis, please go to my contact page and leave a message, and I shall get back to you.

 In the meantime, if this post is informative, I’d be very grateful if you’d help your friends or family if they have a similar condition to tell them. So please share it on X (twitter) or Facebook or send them an email.

I am not a medical professional, and this blog is for information only.  If you have any worries you should consult your doctor.

I hope this blog has helped.


Linda Rook

Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 

Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.

Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.

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