Arthrosis of the fingers - a disease of musicians or not

Thinking of an elderly person's hands, we almost inevitably imagine gnarled fingers, thin at the phalanges, but as if they were swollen at the joints. Few people think that this is not just a sign of the body's natural aging, but a symptom of a real disease - osteoarthritis of the fingers. What's more, not everyone knows that this disease can "age" hands at twenty-five or thirty, which makes writing a simple note or twisting a bottle cap a painful and difficult task. How to maintain fine finger motor skills, who is at risk and what to do with finger arthrosis if it has already started - read about it below.

pain in a woman's finger joint

Deforming arthrosis of the fingers

A person's metacarpophalangeal and interphalangeal joints are under constant load, because for a normal quality of life they have to make fine motor movements every minute - from simple grabbing movements (picking an apple, opening a door, holding a cutlery) to very small and complex ones (they determine a person's handwriting, their ability to sew and knit, play instruments, and more). The more intensely the fingers are loaded, the more wear is exposed to the cartilaginous tissue, which covers the heads of the phalangeal bones, forming the articular surface. This cartilaginous layer, washed away by synovial fluid, allows the bones not to rub against each other during movement, but to slide, so to speak, and also plays the role of a natural buffer (eg during shock movements, without which is impossible to type on the keyboard).

For several reasons, which we'll discuss below, the interphalangeal cartilage is subject to wear. Most of the time, the process takes place as follows:

  • Porous cartilage tissue undergoes a load in which joint lubricant is "squeezed" out of it, providing good joint mobility. Usually after that, recovery occurs - the cartilage is again saturated with moisture in a calm state. But if the load is excessive or cartilage nutrition is disturbed, it begins to dry out and crack. This leads to a decrease in its elasticity and functionality.
  • Unable to resist friction, the desiccated cartilage begins to gradually wear away and become thinner, exposing the heads of bones. Since the articular surface does not fully support the task in the hands, bones, muscles and ligaments begin to feel the load being delivered to the cartilage - almost the entire finger orthopedic apparatus or even the entire hand. To increase the articular surface area and prevent it from being further effaced, the body begins to "finish" bone spurs in the affected area - bony growths that can be rounded and even pointed in shape. This process is also popularly called "salt deposition", which is not entirely correct, as we are talking about the proliferation of bone tissue.
  • The appearance of osteophytes leads to decreased mobility - the fingers bend even more and it is no longer possible to handle normal daily tasks with previous dexterity. At the same time, bone tissue does not have its own mechanism to protect against friction and, therefore, osteophytes periodically break and damage adjacent tissues, causing pain and inflammation. Furthermore, microscopic cracks are formed, which reduce the bone's resistance and make it fragile - therefore, in arthrosis and osteoarthrosis, finger fractures are not uncommon, even with not very strong blows. When the osteophyte, which makes up for the joint's insufficient function, breaks down, another one grows in its place - over time, the process only gets worse along with cartilage dysfunction.
  • Severe wear and tear on joint surfaces, changes in bone shape lead to whole-hand restructuring, chronic inflammation and pain. The brush is deformed to the point that it is completely impossible to hold the mug with your fingers.
  • From arthritis, arthrosis, also called osteoarthritis or osteoarthritis (all are synonymous), differs mainly in joint destruction and in the chronic course of the disease. While arthritis only implies the presence of an acute inflammatory process that affects cartilage tissue. In arthrosis, the joint pouch, synovium, subchondral bone, as well as ligaments and muscles are involved in the degenerative-dystrophic process. Also, in arthritis, the pain is usually sharp and intense, appearing at night. While arthrosis is felt during the day, in the early stages - pain not very pronounced.

    Currently considered the most common forms of arthrosis: rhizarthrosis, in which the thumb is compromised, and polyarthrosis, which affects several interphalangeal joints at the same time.

    Remember: in the early stages of the disease, bone destruction can still be prevented and osteoarthritis can be brought into permanent remission, maintaining high-quality hand biomechanics.

    Causes of arthrosis of small joints of the hands

    The risk group usually includes family members who have had arthrosis of the fingers. The density of cartilage tissue and the rate of metabolic processes within it are genetically predetermined and therefore the propensity to develop the disease may be heritable. In addition, the disease affects postmenopausal women about 10 times more often than their male peers.

    The probability of osteoarthritis increases in connection with professional and domestic workloads - typists, surgeons, massage therapists, bakers, milkmaids, turners and millers, pianists, athletes and other professionals who "work with their hands" often notice unpleasant symptoms earlier than others .

    The development of arthrosis of the fingers is facilitated by:

    • rapid wear and/or insufficient regeneration of cartilage tissue;
    • metabolic disorders, problems with the endocrine system, systemic autoimmune diseases (diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, gout);
    • lack of normal rest and warm-up in the workplace, excessive exercise with dumbbells;
    • sleep disorders and chronic stress;
    • age-related hormonal changes;
    • birth defects of the hands;
    • hand, finger and wrist joint injuries;
    • hypothermia, work with vibrating instruments and other unfavorable factors;
    • specific septic and infectious diseases (tuberculosis, chlamydia, syphilis);
    • Allergic reactions;
    • chronic dehydration (heavy drinking);
    • an unbalanced diet without vitamins D, E, K and minerals.

    Finger arthrosis symptoms

    The symptoms and treatment of arthrosis of the finger joint can vary significantly depending on the stage of the disease and the patient's perception. Often mild joint discomfort and increased muscle fatigue are attributed to fatigue and are ignored until constant excruciating pain appears. However, the sooner treatment is started, the more fully the functionality of the fingers will remain in old age and the better will be the quality of life in subsequent years.

    First step.The disease starts with a feeling of pain in the hands, numbness or tingling, sometimes - manifests itself in sharp pains. It becomes more difficult to carry out everyday tasks - fingers tire more quickly, dry and rough crunches appear on joints (not to be confused with "healthy" sound! ), Cracking when bending. I want to give my hands a rest. Pain is usually only felt during exercise. In a relaxed state, the fingers ache for some time and cause discomfort. The rigidity of the movements is increasingly observed, before exercises that require manual dexterity, there is a need to "warm up", to stretch the fingers. The joints are swollen. In the presence of cardiovascular disease, hands begin to respond to climate change.

    Second stage.At this stage, there is a strong narrowing of the joint space (up to 50%), the inflammatory process increases. The skin over the joints is often hot. The pain tends to be continuous and may not stop even at night. After work and in the morning, there is swelling, stiffness of the fingers. The phalanges become visibly thickened and the ligaments shorten, there is a clumsiness in the movements, so the manipulation of small objects (needles, threads, small coins and buttons) becomes more difficult. On the sides of the joints, there is the characteristic thickening of the connective tissue (the so-called Heberden and Bouchard nodules), filled with synovial fluid - the cysts are especially visible when seen behind the palms of the hands. The tactile and temperature sensitivity of the fingers is greatly reduced. It's almost impossible to relax your hands without a hot bath - your muscles are in constant tension. The range of voluntary movement is visibly reduced, spasms appear.

    Third stage.In the last stage of the disease, the fingers practically do not bend, which can lead to ankylosis and persistent contractures. The pain is constant, debilitating and often causes depression in patients. The phalanges of the fingers between the joints become thinner due to muscular tissue dystrophy. Even simple everyday tasks - for example, holding a cup - are practically inaccessible to the patient. He needs other people's help. The deformation of the joints and changes in the shape of the hand are clearly visible. In advanced cases, necrotic tissue changes are possible.

    If you want to take a quick test and understand if it's worth worrying, the article on symptoms and treatment of osteoarthritis will be helpful for you. However, the best solution would be to contact a rheumatologist or orthopedist as soon as possible - only clinical diagnostic methods will help to ultimately confirm or refute the diagnosis.

    Finger arthrosis treatment

    Controlling arthrosis of the fingers in the early stages makes it possible to completely eliminate the external symptoms of the disease that affect quality of life. However, the therapy is complex, multivector - it includes not only the use of drugs, but also the physical impact and even occupational therapy. Fighting a chronic illness sometimes requires rethinking your diet, daily routine, working conditions, and workplace organization.

    drug treatment

    The treatment of osteoarthritis of the fingers, as a rule, begins with the elimination of pain, for which the hand is immobilized with a splint or orthopedic bandage and analgesic tablets, creams and ointments. Rest mode helps to rehydrate cartilage, restoring its elasticity. In the presence of severe inflammation and edema, which interfere with the trophism (nutrition) of the tissues, the doctor prescribes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which restore blood circulation in the fingers. As per the indications, steroid hormones are prescribed. Osteoarthritis caused by infectious arthritis requires topical administration of antibiotics.

    The reception of chondroprotectors has been consolidated as one of the most effective measures at any stage of the disease. Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine should be consumed in cycles, about 6 months a year - the effect appears after a few months and is long-lasting.

    If the proposed treatment does not relieve the pain, pain relievers can be injected directly into the joint. Often, this procedure involves the use of special medicinal mixtures that also contain chondroprotectives, hyaluronic acid, platelet-rich blood plasma (PRP therapy), and other means designed to regenerate cartilage tissue and eliminate friction.

    Surgical intervention for hand arthrosis

    In the last stages of the disease, as indicated, an operation may be performed. As a rule, this involves rinsing the joint and removing osteophytes, rebuilding or forming a destroyed joint, stabilizing it (fusion) or endoprosthesis (so far a rather unpopular measure in small hand joint surgery).

    physiotherapeutic treatment

    In most cases, the disease responds well to conservative physical therapy treatment - however, it is only performed in the remission phase, after the inflammation has disappeared. Device methods for treating deforming arthrosis of the fingers include electrophoresis, shock wave, UHF, pulse, magnetotherapy, and others. Acupuncture is also effective.

    Patients are recommended therapeutic massages and self-massage, which help to combat muscle tension and spasms, have a beneficial effect on the condition of the ligaments, the metabolism of the hand and fingers, as well as the range of voluntary movement. For self-massage, just:

    • Rub your palms together until the skin is warm;
    • Rub each finger from base to tip;
    • rotate each finger in a slightly clenched fist, like sharpening a pencil;
    • bend and unfold your fingers quickly for 30 seconds, avoiding clenching them into fists;
    • bring your palms together and rest your fingertips together, pressing them down tightly for 1-2 minutes.

    It includes the treatment of arthrosis of the fingers and gymnastics. Use rubber balls and special wrist expanders, special cubes and other devices to develop fine motor skills in warm-ups. Modeling clay or plasticine will not be superfluous. This will help maintain muscle tone and prevent the formation of large bone spurs.

    You can also do warm baths at home with water (it's worth adding sea salt, essential oils, herbal teas), paraffin or clean sand - heating the formulations will speed up the removal of decomposition products and provide quick access to nutrients.

    Diet for arthrosis of the fingers

    Patients are advised to follow a non-rigid diet that excludes smoky and salty foods, alcohol, as well as foods with artificial colors, steroids, preservatives. Diet is especially important in the treatment of metabolic arthrosis - in this case it is completely determined by the treating physician. As a rule, patients are advised to eat meals rich in plant and animal collagen and other gelling substances. Foods should contain a minimum of "empty" calories and fully supply the body's daily needs for vitamins, macro and microelements. It is imperative that you drink plenty of water with electrolytes such as mineral or sports drinks.