Arthrosis in the hands: is there a cure? See symptoms and exercises

The arthritis or osteoarthritis (medical term) is characterized by degeneration of cartilage. That is, it is a wear of the joints. As a consequence, this process causes pain and makes it difficult to move the affected area.

This is because the function of the articular cartilage is to prevent friction between the bones, in addition to providing support and cushioning impacts.

Some studies indicate that 4 out of 10 people have or will have arthrosis between the fingers and the wrist. Still, others demonstrate that the disease is more recurrent in menopausal women and in the elderly, due to the aging of the cartilage.

In addition to the hands, the disease can manifest itself in several joints of the body, being very common in the knee, shoulder and spine. In the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), arthrosis can be found using the following codes:

  • M150 – Primary osteoarthrosis;
  • M153 – Secondary multiple arthrosis;
  • M154 – Osteoartrose erosiva.

Now, let’s look at some causes of arthrosis in the hands and their diagnosis. We will also address your symptoms and treatments.

What causes arthrosis in the fingers?

The cause of joint degeneration may be associated with inflammatory diseases ( rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus), genetic predisposition, overuse of the joints, joint impacts or trauma, lifestyle, obesity or muscle diseases.

In addition, in the digital age it is very common that this pathology is associated with the excessive use of cell phones or computers.

Also, when arthrosis manifests in the hands, it can appear on the fingertips (Heberden’s nodules), on the wrist, on the base of the fingers in general or only on the base of the thumb (rhizarthrosis).

What are the symptoms of arthrosis in the hands?

Arthrosis in the hands usually shows symptoms when the disease is already at an advanced stage. The most common include:

  • Pain in the hand: initially it is more intense when waking up and decreases as the day progresses, with the progress of the disease the pain can occur at different times and more frequently;
  • Swelling in the fingers;
  • Stiffness in the joints, making it difficult to perform movements;
  • Tingling of the hands (including at rest).

When symptoms persist, it is of paramount importance to seek medical help.

How is the diagnosis of arthrosis in the hands made?

Arthrosis lacks a clinical diagnosis, which must be performed by professionals specialized in rheumatology . To ensure the diagnosis, tests such as:

  • Radiography;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging;
  • Blood count.

Is arthrosis in the hands curable?

No . Despite this, by correctly carrying out the treatments recommended by health professionals, it is possible to reduce the progression of the disease and alleviate the symptoms.

What is the treatment for osteoarthritis in the hands?

Considering that arthrosis is a disease that has no cure, its care is palliative. That is, they aim to improve the quality of life of the person with the pathology. There are several types of treatments, from the most invasive (surgeries) to the use of anti-inflammatories or home exercises, for example.

In the sequence, we will see some types of treatment and understand how they work.

Physiotherapeutic treatment

Within physiotherapy there are several techniques that can be applied in cases of osteoarthritis: exercise, transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), physical means (cold or heat), laser therapy, physical therapy massages, etc.

The main objective is to strengthen the muscles around the joints. Generally, light and low intensity exercises are indicated, and it is essential to follow the professional recommendation.

Physiotherapy, like other treatments, does not work alone. For a better result, the treatment possibilities are used in a complementary way.

Surgery

Surgery is one of the most invasive (if not the most) methods of treatment.

It is usually indicated when alternative treatments have not been successful or satisfactory. But it can also occur when the rheumatologist finds it necessary and effective.

There are different types and techniques applied, which tend to vary according to the area affected by the disease. In general, recovery tends to be smooth, with some restrictions in cases of severe osteoarthritis.

Intra-articular infiltration

Intra-articular infiltrations are interventions in which anti-inflammatory drugs are introduced (by injection) directly into the joint.

Usually the procedure is indicated in cases of severe arthrosis or when there is no satisfactory response to oral medication. The objective of this technique is to avoid reducing pain, improve movement and alleviate joint deformities.

For intra-articular infiltration, drugs such as:

Drug treatments

Drug treatment is very important in cases of osteoarthritis. However, a multidisciplinary intervention is still necessary for better results.

Usually the first indication of medication is an analgesic. They act directly on the pain, causing relief. However, in severe cases, continuous use is not recommended, as it can cause dependence.

That is why you should never have a treatment independently, you must always count on specialists.

In addition, when inflammation is detected in osteoarthritis, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended. Although safe, medical advice is necessary, since for the elderly (group at risk of the disease) the medication can cause kidney problems.

It is worth noting that self-medication is always discouraged.

Exercises for arthrosis in the hands

In addition to the treatments presented, there are some exercises that you can perform daily for pain relief.

They are simple movements that can be done anywhere and can help you in times of discomfort. Let’s see below:

Exercise 1

In this exercise you must keep your hand straight and your fingers together. Then, bend your fingers and then go back to the starting position.

Exercise 2

Start the exercise by keeping your hand open and relaxed. Then, fold your thumb in the palm of your hand to touch the bottom of your little finger.

Exercise 3

For this exercise, you should let your hand relax. Then close slowly but without applying too much force.

Exercise 4

Start by making an “ok” sign by joining your thumb with your index finger. Then repeat the movement by touching the tip of your thumb to the tip of your other fingers.

Exercise 5

In this exercise, you must place your open hand on a flat surface. Then, spread your thumb and then your index finger. Repeat the movement, moving your fingers apart one at a time, so that at the end everyone is together.

Arthrosis in the hands retires?

In some cases, yes.

There is no law that guarantees immediate retirement in cases of pathologies such as osteoarthritis. However, Law 8,213 covers the conditions and benefits of Social Security, including disability retirement.

In such cases it is necessary that the person undergoes an expert examination, presenting exams and medical reports, in order to prove the situation of disability.

Therefore, it is worth reinforcing that the arthrosis itself does not retire. Early retirement can occur in cases of disability or in specific situations.


Although arthrosis in the hands is a degenerative disease with no cure, it is important to maintain treatment. That is, follow the recommendations of your doctor and be sure to perform the home exercises, as they can help in case of pain.

In addition, if you have read this article and identified yourself with one or more of the symptoms presented, look for a specialist.

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