There are 27 bones in the human hand. These bones are among the most active in the human body. People use their hands not just on a daily basis, but on a moment-to-moment basis. The articular surfaces of the bones are in constant opposition and alignment with each other in an ever-changing array of configurations. Inflammation of all these joints that make up the fingers, the thumb, the top of the hand, and the wrist, is inevitable at some point. Arthritis hand pain is a fact of life.
In very small spaces, with minimal cushioning, the human hand bones are arranged in a complex architecture of bones, ligaments, tendons, bursae, nerves, muscles, cartilage, and blood vessels. A femur, the thigh bone, is the longest bone in the body, surrounded by layers of muscle and fat and thick cushioning to protect its joints with the pelvis and with the knee. The distal phalange at the end of a ring finger is much more exposed.
Medical doctors have been investigating ways to relieve the hand pain caused by arthritis. Depending on the underlying pathology, arthritis hand pain symptoms vary. The recommended treatment is directed by the primary cause of pain and limited physical function.
The juncture between the proximal phalanges and the metacarpals, known as the knuckles to laypeople, is a common site of arthritis hand pain. The knuckles, because they are situated at the point in the hand that experiences the most stress, often are the site of osteophytes, also known as bone spurs. These are new growths of bone to compensate for excessive bone wear and tear. In the tight space of the knuckle contained in its surrounding skin, bone spurs can impinge on surrounding nerves and blood vessels, causing inflammation. They also rub against surrounding ligaments and tendons, and can abrade or puncture other surrounding tissues.
Relieving or reversing arthritis hand pain is usually accomplished through a combination of drug therapy, surgical intervention, and physical therapy. Physical therapy is the least invasive treatment, and most insurers will recommend this before pursuing other options. Arthritis hand pain relief can often be accomplished through a regimen of exercise that strengthens the muscles of the hand and that promotes flexibility of connective tissues. Stretching and strengthening exercises, when accompanied with therapeutic heat and therapeutic massage, can greatly relieve arthritis hand pain symptoms and promote increased productivity and a healthy lifestyle.