Hand/Wrist Arthritis

Health Plus Physical Therapy Center

Physical Therapy center located at 2114 Oak Tree Rd, Edison, NJ 08820

At Health Plus, we provide tailored therapy services to address various conditions and injuries. Our goal is to help you regain mobility, alleviate pain, and enhance your well-being. With advanced techniques and compassionate care, we’re here to support your journey to recovery.

Hand / Wrist Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Arthritis in the hand and wrist develops when the joints in these areas become inflamed and degenerate over time. Understanding the factors influencing its onset, identifying symptoms, diagnostic procedures, and treatment modalities is crucial for effectively managing this condition.


The hand and wrist comprise a intricate network of bones, including the carpals, metacarpals, and phalanges, along with connecting ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Together, these structures facilitate movement and provide stability to the hand and wrist joints.


  1. Degenerative Changes: Gradual wear and tear of the cartilage within the hand and wrist joints due to aging or repetitive use.
  2. Inflammatory Conditions: Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis can cause inflammation in the hand and wrist joints, leading to cartilage damage and arthritis.
  3. Joint Trauma: Previous injuries or trauma to the hand or wrist, such as fractures or dislocations, can increase the risk of developing arthritis in these joints.


  1. Pain: Gradual onset of pain in the hand or wrist joints, often aggravated by movement or pressure.
  2. Decreased Grip Strength: Difficulty in gripping objects firmly due to weakness and pain in the hand or wrist.
  3. Stiffness: Morning stiffness in the hand or wrist joints, making it challenging to move or use the affected hand.
  4. Tenderness: Tenderness and sensitivity around the affected joints, especially with pressure or touch.
  5. Radiating Pain: Pain may radiate from the hand or wrist joints to the fingers or forearm, affecting mobility and function.


  1. Clinical Examination: Evaluation of symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, and decreased grip strength, through a physical examination of the hand and wrist.
  2. Imaging Studies: X-rays or MRI scans may be performed to visualize the joints and assess the extent of cartilage damage and inflammation. These imaging tests help confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible conditions affecting the hand and wrist.

Treatment Options:

  1. Immobilization:

    a. Casting: Utilized for stable fractures, casting offers support and aids in the healing process.

    b. Splinting: Temporary splinting is employed to provide initial stabilization and immobilization.


  2. Closed Reduction:

    a. Non-surgical realignment is conducted by a healthcare professional to restore proper alignment of the fractured bones.


  3. Surgical Intervention:

    a. Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF): Surgical procedure involving realignment and fixation using screws, plates, or wires.

    b. External Fixation: Temporary fixation utilizing external devices, particularly in complex fractures.


  4. Rehabilitation:

    a. Physical Therapy: Gradual introduction of range of motion exercises and strengthening routines under the guidance of a therapist.

    b. Functional Rehabilitation: Activities aimed at restoring normal arm function and enhancing mobility.


Pain management may involve the use of over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers as required to alleviate discomfort.

Follow-up Care:

Regular follow-up appointments to monitor healing progress and adjust treatment as necessary.


Surgery is rarely needed but may be considered for persistent cases that do not respond to conservative measures.


  1. Joint Protection: Utilize supportive splints or braces during activities that may strain the hand or wrist joints.
  2. Ergonomic Practices: Maintain proper posture and ergonomics when performing repetitive tasks to minimize stress on the hand and wrist.
  3. Exercise and Stretching: Engage in regular exercises and stretching routines to promote joint flexibility and strength.


Hand and wrist arthritis is a condition that necessitates timely medical intervention for effective management. The approach to treatment may differ based on the specific type and severity of arthritis. Early diagnosis, appropriate interventions such as medications or lifestyle modifications, and dedicated rehabilitation play vital roles in achieving a successful recovery. It is imperative for individuals experiencing persistent hand or wrist pain, swelling, or limited mobility to seek prompt medical attention for proper evaluation and guidance.

Related Conditions:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

Trigger Finger

Ganglion Cysts

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