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What happens when you have osteoarthritis in your hands?

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Quick Answer

Osteoarthritis in the hands results in aching and joint stiffness in the hands and fingers. It is diagnosed by a thorough physical examination by a physician and can be further confirmed through the use of x-rays and bone scans, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

WebMD describes osteoarthritis as a medical condition that affects the joints of the body. It usually affects the hands, knees, hips and feet, and it is degenerative, steadily worsening over time as the result of wear and tear on the bones and joints. The condition is most common in older people. However, it can affect younger people due to a genetic defect or as the result of bone or joint injury.

Hand osteoarthritis tends to occur in certain parts of the hand. It usually manifests at the base of the thumb, in the joints at the end of the finger near the nail or in the joints of the middle finger, according to WebMD. About Health lists common symptoms as pain, swelling, stiffness and limited range of motion. As the disease progresses, physical control and function of the joints make simple tasks such as opening doors and turning keys very difficult.

Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. About Health notes that anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections can relieve pain in moderate cases. Other treatments include splints to immobilize the joint, rest, heat and cold applications, and topical treatments. Surgery to fuse or replace the joint may be necessary in the most severe cases.

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