osteoarthritis of the hands

Osteoarthritis of the Hands (Hand Osteoarthritis) | Cause, symptoms, prevention and treatment

Osteoarthritis of the hands means joint wear in the hands, fingers and wrists. Osteoarthritis in the hands can lead to pain, pain and reduced grip - which, among other things, can make it difficult to open jam jars or hold the coffee cup. The diagnosis can, in many cases, be kept in check by physical treatment, daily stretching and exercise exercises. We remind you that you will find a video of exercise exercises for your hands further down in the article.


TIPS: Many people with osteoarthritis in their hands and fingers use it specially adapted compression gloves (like these - the link opens in a new window).


Hand osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage and bone tissue in the fingers, wrists and small joints of the hand. It particularly affects:

  • Wrist
  • 1st Metacarpal joint (base of thumb)
  • Fingertips (PIP joint, outer joint of fingers)
  • Middle finger joints (DIP joint, middle joint of fingers)


Also read: The 5 Stages of Kneartrose

the 5 stages of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is divided into five stages. Read more about it in the article above.

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In the article, we will review:

  • Symptoms of osteoarthritis in the hands
  • The cause of osteoarthritis in the hands
  • Self-measures against hand osteoarthritis
  • Prevention of osteoarthritis of the fingers and hands
  • Treatment of osteoarthritis in the hands
  • Diagnosis of osteoarthritis


In this article you will learn more about osteoarthritis in the hands and the causes, symptoms, prevention, self-measures and treatment of this clinical condition.

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Symptoms of Osteoarthritis in the Hands

Discussion with health professionals

The symptoms and pain the individual experiences vary greatly from person to person. Some people have significant osteoarthritis without having pain or a single symptom - while others, with mild osteoarthritis, experience both pain and joint pain. The symptoms often vary according to the stage of osteoarthritis.

Namely, you divide osteoarthritis from stage 0 (no osteoarthritis or joint wear) to stage 4 (advanced, significant osteoarthritis and wear). The various stages give an indication of how much cartilage is broken down in the joints and how large the joint wear is. You can read more about the different stages of osteoarthritis here.


Characteristic symptoms and clinical signs on osteoarthritis can include:

  • Heaviness can occur in the knuckles, middle or outer finger joints
  • Light or clear swelling of the affected joints
  • Local pressure relief over the joints
  • Reduced grip strength
  • Redness of the joints
  • Wearing more severely can cause your fingers to hurt
  • Action in hands during use and load
  • Increase in the incidence of compensatory pain in the forearms and elbow


Hands affected by osteoarthritis can also cause an increased incidence of forearm ailments, shoulder problems and tendonitis in the elbow. This is because one often begins to compensate incorrectly if the hands do not function quite as they should - and thus it affects other anatomical structures and areas. This is called compensation ailments. Osteoarthritis of the hands can, due to incorrect loading, even provide a basis for an increase in neck pain (including stress neck) and neck problems.

Why are your hands extra stiff and sore on the mornings?

When you sleep or sit still, you have less circulation of blood circulation and synovial fluid than when you are moving - that is why you are stiffer at the beginning of the morning and after you have sat still. But, as you know, you did not have this before - so it is also an indication that your hands are not in top shape in terms of mobility and general health. It is therefore relatively common to be stiff in the morning, but may indicate that you have certain problems with muscles and joints that should be investigated and treated.

Self Action and Prevention of Osteoarthritis in the Hands

If you want to take an active approach to prevention and to reduce the aging process in your hands then this is absolutely possible. By strengthening the muscles in the hands, forearms and shoulders, you can relieve the joints, as well as contribute to improved blood circulation and maintenance. Many also use specially adapted compression gloves (the link opens in a new window) to, among other things, increase circulation in the hands. Below you see two recommended exercise programs - in video format.

VIDEO: 7 Exercises Against Hand Osteoarthritis

Here you can see the video of the seven exercises that we go through in this article (read: 7 Exercises Against Hand Osteoarthritis). You can read detailed descriptions of how to do the exercises in steps 1 to 7 below.

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Just think about when you lift something with your hands - the majority of the strength comes from the shoulders and upper back. Therefore, good strength in the shoulders is essential to keep the hands healthy and in good shape. By exercising both strength in nearby muscles, as well as performing regular exercise exercises, you can maintain good blood circulation and muscular elasticity. We recommend that you try doing these, or similar, exercises several times a week.

VIDEO: Strength Exercises for the Shoulders with Elastic

Read more: - 7 Exercises for Hand Osteoarthritis

hand arthrosis exercises

Read more: - What You Should Know About Stress Neck and Tight Neck Muscles

neck pain 1

This link opens in a new window.

pain inside the hand

Osteoarthritis can lead to calcifications in the fingers, hands and wrists

When the cartilage in between the various joints of the fingers, hands and wrists breaks down, repair processes will occur on their part in an attempt to make up for the damage. These processes also involve the deposition of bone tissue in the affected areas - which in turn leads to calcifications and bone spurs.

Such calcifications are visible on x-rays and provide a basis for saying how extensive your osteoarthritis is. When there are visible, larger bones on the fingers or wrists then this is a clear indication that there is relatively advanced osteoarthritis of a later stage.

Heberdens knots 

When bone spheres and clear calcifications occur in the outer part of the fingers, these are - medically speaking - called Heberden's spheres. Many people often find that they have small distinct balls on the outermost part of the finger joints (DIP joints) and wonder very much what that might be. The truth is that there are calcifications.

Bouchards knots 

If similar calcifications and spheres occur in the joint within the outermost joint then this is called Bouchard's knots. This description is thus used if the middle link (PIP link) is affected.

Read more: - How To Release Muscle Tensions In The Neck And Shoulder

Stretching of the neck

Painful muscles? Address the problem today and begin with the exercises shown in the article above.

Read more: - How Yoga Can Relieve Fibromyalgia And Chronic Pain

Thus yoga can relieve fibromyalgia 3

Cause: Why do you get osteoarthritis in your hands?

Eczema Treatment

Joint wear occurs when the loads are higher than the body's ability to relieve and repair. Ideally, one would have such strong stability muscles that they could relieve the joints from getting any wear at all - but unfortunately it is almost impossible.

This is because common joint wear changes and osteoarthritis increase with age - due to normal wear and tear in everyday life. With age, we also have a weaker ability to repair cartilage and joints. In the hands it is especially repetitive strain that is behind the majority of joint wear and osteoarthritis.

It has been seen that these risk factors in particular give a higher chance of osteoarthritis:

  • That you are a woman
  • A job that involves a lot of repetitive strain
  • Family history of osteoarthritis
  • Higher age
  • Trauma or rupture

Thus, some of the most common risk factors for developing osteoarthritis in the hands involve overload without adequate restitution, family history of joint problems and previous injuries to the hands. It has also been thoroughly documented that fractures and injuries to the joints lead to earlier osteoarthritis and a faster aging process.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis in the Hands

acupuncture nalebehandling

There are several treatments that can provide you with relief and functional improvement. Something you should start with today is daily strength and stretching exercises to maintain functionality and strengthen blood circulation.

Physical Treatment

Manual treatment, including joint mobilization and muscular work, has a well-documented effect on osteoarthritis and its symptoms. Physical treatment should be performed by a public health professional. In Norway, this means physiotherapist, modern chiropractor or manual therapist.

Many people are surprised that research shows that such treatment of muscles and joints is actually more effective than exercise (1) when it comes to reducing pain and providing improved function. Then think about how effective such treatment in combination with home exercises can be? Modern chiropractors treat both muscles and joints, as well as instructing in home exercises to give you long-lasting recovery. If you have extensive osteoarthritis and are struggling with traditional exercise, we also highly recommend training in hot water pool.

Physical therapy may also consist of laser therapy and needle therapy.

Diet with high antioxidant content

It has been seen that a diet that has a high content of anti-inflammatory (anti-inflammatory) nutritional values ​​can help reduce inflammation of the joints and prevent unnecessary joint destruction. «Fibromyalgia diet»Is an excellent starting point for you who want to learn more about this.

Also read: - Everything You Need to Know About the Fibromyalgia Diet

fibromyalgid diet2 700px

More movement in everyday life

Do you have a job that gives you a lot of repetition and static load? Then we strongly recommend that you be extra careful to get enough movement and blood circulation. Join a training group, go for a walk with a friend or do home exercises - the most important thing is that you do something you like and thus manage to motivate yourself to more movement in everyday life.

Also read: - 6 Early Signs of Osteoarthritis

6 early signs of osteoarthritis

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis in the Hands

Osteoarthritis is often diagnosed through a combination of history-taking, clinical examination and imaging (usually X-ray). To see the extent of joint wear, you must take an X-ray - as this shows bone tissue in the very best way. Such an imaging study will be able to visualize calcifications and cartilage damage.

You may be referred to an X-ray examination by a modern chiropractor or physician. Such imaging tests should be taken by radiographers and radiologists - and not by the person you have consulted for help. If you have seen a clinician who has his own X-ray machine in the back room, it is best to go somewhere else.

If you are bothered with symptoms that may be reminiscent of osteoarthritis then we suggest that you bring it up with your GP for a review. Finding out the extent of osteoarthritis itself can also give a clear indication of what you should do about self-measures and prevention, as well as treatment at a publicly licensed clinic. We remind you that physical therapy in combination with exercise has a very good effect in relieving symptoms and providing you with functional improvement.

Also read: - 7 Symptoms of Fibromyalgia in Women

Fibromyalgia Female



You can slow the development of osteoarthritis with proper measures, exercise and any treatment. We especially recommend starting with strength training for the shoulders and arms to contribute to healthy joints, improved blood circulation and healthy muscle.

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Recommended self help

Soft sooth compression gloves - Photo Medipaq

Custom Compression Gloves (Link opens in new window)

Daily use of compression gloves can be a highly relevant measure for those who suffer from osteoarthritis and arthritis in the fingers and hands. Many also feel that certain daily chores become easier with compression gloves.

Click the image or link above to open Your Health Store in a new window.


NEXT PAGE: - The 5 Stages of Kneartrose (How Aggravated Osteoarthritis worsens)

the 5 stages of osteoarthritis

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Frequently Asked Questions about Osteoarthritis in the Hands

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