Arthritis, which literally means inflamed joint, can occur in any of the joints in the body. Less common types include gout, arthritis in wrist and hands and infectious arthritis. Nearly 85 percent of adults age 75-80 suffer from arthritis and it tends to affect more women than men. It can be caused by simple wear and tear or as a result of an injury to the joint.
When the cartilage thins, the bones become exposed and inflamed. This can irritate the bone and surrounding structure. These bone deformities can create a ‘nobly’ appearance in the finger joints. Those that occur in the smallest joints at the end of the fingers are known as Heberden’s nodes. If they appear in the middle joint of the fingers they are called Bouchard’s nodes. They may or may not be painful but over a period of time lead to restricted movement of the fingers. Osteoarthritis of the hands can occur in one or both hands.
It can also develop at the wrist. 75 percent of people with RA have hand and wrist problems. RA typically affects the synovium tissue which lines the joints. It becomes swollen and red causing the tissue to stretch. This has the knock on effect of causing the joints to become unstable and deformed as the joint cartilage and bone start to erode. It usually occurs in both hands. This typically affects workers who operate machinery on a daily basis.