Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hands

The hand, no matter its size, contains 25 joints and all of these joints are susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is an autoimmune disorder that happens when your own immune system attacks your joints. Living with arthritic hands is never easy, more so since almost every activity you do involves the use of your hands.

Early Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Identifying the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis is essential to a quick diagnosis and jumpstarting treatment. There is no known cure for RA but there are ways to delay the progress of the disease.

Here are some signs you need to be aware of if you have a nagging feeling that your hands may be arthritic:

  • Joint pain. The pain typically starts in the smaller joints of your hands and wrists. The pain is usually symmetrical.

  • Joint swelling. Inflamed joints may appear and disappear, but it will normally last one hour or more. The hands may appear extremely red, inflamed, and bulging.

  • Bumps. Small bumps or rheumatoid nodules can occur near the joint area.

  • Morning rigidity. Severe morning stiffness may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. The stiffness can last one hour or longer.

  • Flu-like symptoms. Health professionals warn that patients with rheumatoid arthritis can experience hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), fatigue, and weight loss. These symptoms can continue for many months and usually in conjunction with joint pain and rigidity.

Consult your doctor as soon as you notice any of these signs. The earlier the disease is addressed with medical interventions, the better the prognosis.

Diagnosing Arthritic Hands

Physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging studies are utilized in combination to make a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Given that symptoms vary among patients, your doctor has to monitor the whole clinical representations in order to have a precise diagnosis and provide the best treatment.

Live with Arthritic Hands By Living Healthy

Patients with RA are at risk of micronutrient deficiencies often because of the difficulty with food preparation that leads to a low intake of carbohydrates and micronutrient-rich foods. Diet restrictions also play a role. Moreover, the body’s inflammatory response likewise consumes a lot of the body’s energy. Taking certain drugs can also influence the decrease in vitamins, minerals, and calorie intake.

According to dietitians and nutritionists, you must avoid these foods if you want to manage your RA:

  • Fried and grilled foods

  • Salty foods

  • Foods with a high white flour content

  • Berries

  • Foods and beverages that contain white sugar

  • Alcoholic drinks

  • Milk and dairy products

  • Foods made of refined wheat

  • Vegetables laden with vitamin C

  • Beef and pork

  • Foods containing saturated fats

  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee

As for foods you do want to include in your diet, some fish and vegetable oils have anti-inflammatory properties which can aid joint stiffness. You should likewise consume foods with antioxidant properties as antioxidants help in combating the negative effects of free radicals, thereby lessening cellular damage. Diet is only effective, however, if you also adopt healthy lifestyle habits too.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Regular exercise helps maintain the flexibility and mobility of the joints, reduces stress, and enhances sleep. Opt for easy-to-use exercise equipment to strengthen and rehabilitate your hands and the forearm muscles which control them.

  • Stress reduction via visualization exercises and biofeedback is often utilized to manage fatigue and pain.


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can decrease inflammation and pain, and can be utilized for both long and short-term alleviation in people affected with rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are prescribed to slow the disease process of rheumatoid arthritis and help put off the destruction of joints and cartilages. They work through interfering the body’s immune system.

  • Steroids combat and suppress the immune response and inflammation.

  • Biologic therapies or biologics target very specific cells that are often involved in the body’s inflammatory process and are known for their therapeutic action to help lessen the joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis.

Surgical Procedure

  • Tendon reconstruction helps mend the tissues and tendons that connect the bone to the muscle, which are frequently damaged by rheumatoid arthritis. This procedure aims to bring back the normal function of the hands.

  • Synovectomy can be done with tendon reconstruction; however, it is not often done on its own. In this surgical procedure, the doctors take out irritated synovial tissue.

Observing these strict lifestyle modifications can help you fight the adverse effects and complications of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as enhance your quality of life.


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