Arthritis of the Thumb: Symptoms & Treatment

Arthritis is a degenerative medical condition that affects and destroy a joint. There are different types of arthritis but the most common one is that affecting the basal joint and osteoarthritis. Thumb arthritis occurs when the cartilage is removed due to prolonged wear and tear from the thumb joint. It can result in severe pain in the hands, swelling and the inability to perform simple daily actions such as turning a doorknob.

Studies have also shown that thumb arthritis is more common in women than men, especially for ladies over 40 years old. In fact, women above the age of 75 are twice more prone to thumb arthritis than men of the same age.

Symptoms

The first symptom that will occur is pain. Pain will start from the base of the thumb when attempting to use it during actions such as clenching a fit. Simply put, any actions that requires the thumb to apply a force will result in pain. Very soon after, pain will be experienced even when the thumb is not in use. This would then signify an increase in the seriousness of thumb arthritis. Other symptoms may also be experienced by patients and they include:

  • Swelling and stiffness at the base of thumb
  • Loss of strength while trying to grip an object
  • Decrease in range of motion of thumb
  • Awkward finger position towards the base area

Causes

Thumb arthritis are usually the result of a direct or indirect trauma to the joint. The basal joint is designed to provide the thumb a wide range of motion, allowing us to perform a myriad of tasks. It is also with this range of motion that causes instability to it. Cartilage acts as a cushion to support the metacarpal bone and trapezium bone. Due to prolonged usage of the thumb joint, the cartilage wears off and the bones are no longer able to glide smoothly over each other. This will result in friction and the eventual damage of the finger joint.

The damaged joint will respond by growing new bones known as bone spurs. These bone spurs will cause the side of the thumb to have visible lumps. Eventually, the thumb metacarpal will start to slide out of the saddle.

Patients with less severe thumb arthritis will respond well to non-surgical treatment whereas those with severe arthritis will need surgical reconstruction to improve thumb function. An early diagnosis is critical to prevent thumb arthritis from deteriorating.

Arthritis of the Hand: Symptoms & Treatment

Arthritis is the generic name for inflammation in the joints. It can take many different form and the most common one is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the medical condition when the protective cushioning known as the cartilage is worn out due to wear and tear. It usually happens in areas such as the hand. In this article, we will look at some of the symptoms and treatment for hand arthritis.

Pain

Pain is the most straightforward symptom for any kind of medical conditions. In the initial stages of hand arthritis, the surrounding area will start to have a burning sensation especially after periods of long usage. This pain can be immediate or delayed. As wear and tear of the cartilage continue to take place, the pain will start to be more intense and the frequency increases. After long periods of rest such as after waking up in the morning, the pain can be quite unbearable and the ability to sense changes in weather also appears. Simple activities such as carrying a grocery bag or opening a can be difficult to accomplish.

Crepitation

After some time, there will be sensations of crepitation. This is due to the damaged cartilage rubbing against each other to create a grinding effect. If the hand arthritis affects the hand ligaments, the ligaments and tendons may start to become loose, creating a sense of instability.

Swelling

Swelling occurs due to an excess of body fluid accumulated in the hand. This is due to the body’s natural defence mechanism sensing that something is wrong. As a result, the white blood cells start to destroy the damaged cartilage, secreting a lot of fluid as a result. This will result in pain and tenderness in the hand.

 

Treatment is classified into non-surgical and surgical methods. In non-surgical treatment, the doctor will prescribe medication to stop the inflammation such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These medication can only treat the symptom but cannot repair the damaged cartilage. To counter this, glucosamine and chondroitin may also be prescribed as supplements.

If non-surgical treatment fails to produce good results, surgery will be necessary. The most common form of surgery is finger joint replacement. The replacement materials are biocompatiable and possesses weightbearing capabilities such as ceramics. This will help to restore function to the hand and improve the quality of life.

Cartilage do not self-regenerate and this is why joint replacement is the most viable option up to date.

The Relationship between Flips Flops and Arthritis

Arthritis or osteoarthritis is a joint disease that can occur anywhere in our body. Although it is more commonly found in people who are older, it still can happen in younger people. Arthritis will happen in people who bear a lot of weight on their joint. In Singapore where the weather is always hot and rainy, flip flops are the ideal choice of footwear for many due to the comfort and convenience. However, some people suggest that flip flips and arthritis have a relationship. So what exactly is this relationship? Let’s explore further in this article.

If you look closely at your feet, you will realise that our foot lands differently when we wear flip flops compared to a pair of shoes. Shorter steps are made when wearing flip flops and the heel strike amount is significantly reduced. When we wear normal shoes, our toes are flexed in an upwards direction. However with flip flops, the toes are flexing downwards instead in order to keep the flip flops on our foot. This incorrect flexing motion can cause the body mechanics to be affected due to wear and tear of the cartilage, causing pain and discomfort.

However, there are differing views on this! A medical study performed by Rush University discovered that flip flops help to reduce the amount of stresses experienced by the knee as compared with a pair of supportive and well cushioned shoes. A pair of supportive footwear works by providing maximum support to the ligaments, tendons and muscles in the foot and aim at maximising comfort. However, it pays little attention to the biomechanical effect on the foot. Shoes have a significantly higher load on the knee as compared to flip flops and this increased load is found to be a cause of arthritis. That aside, walking barefoot was found to be the least demanding action for the knee. Walking barefoot causes the foot to flex naturally without any external help and allows a natural stride as compared to artificial ones caused by wearing shoes or flip flops.

Despite flip flops appearing to be better at reducing arthritis on the surface, it does not mean that you should rush out and buy a pair to walk around daily. While flip flops are better for the knee, it is not best for the foot. Flip flops are badly cushioned and can cause foot injuries and problems.

Causes and Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Our knee joint is where the femur and tibia meets. This unique combination allows a wide range of motion for the knee under undisturbed conditions. However due to certain complications such as injuries, the surface of the knee joint is damaged and mobility is hindered as a result. There are basically 3 kinds of arthritis affecting the knee: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Post-trauma Arthritis. In this article, we will be looking at the causes and symptoms of knee arthritis.

Causes

We must first understand the differences between the 3 kinds of knee arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of knee arthritis and is a degenerative disease that is often accompanied by ageing. Due to wear and tear, the joint cartilage starts to wear off and this results in pain and inflammation when the knee joint rubs against each other. On the other hand, unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which our body’s immune system attacks the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can happen to anyone from any age group. Last but not least is post-trauma arthritis which is essentially caused by direct trauma to the knee. This direct trauma causes damage to the cartilage and changes the joint mechanics, accelerating wear and tear.

Symptoms

Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something located somewhere in your body is wrong. Pain is due to the secretion of chemical signals to your brain which are then recognised as pain. Knee arthritis causes inflammation to the affected joint. This inflammation causes swelling and damages the surrounding soft tissues. In an attempt to reduce stresses on the injured part, the surrounding muscles will try to overload themselves but this will cause muscle soreness after a period of time, contributing to the pain experienced.

Crepitus

Crepitus is characterised by a creaking and grinding sensation when you attempt to move your injured joint.  This is due to cartilage wear down in the spaces between the knee joints. Crepitus can be painful or painless depending on individual conditions.

Knee giving way

Some patients may experience sensations of their knee giving way. This is due to the joint being unstable and the surrounding muscles being fatigued from having to take over the duties of the injured joint. Patients may require walking aids such as a walker or crutches and may use knee braces to stabilise and provide support to the knee joint.

There are various methods of managing arthritis ranging from oral supplements to surgery. However, these do not effectively heal the patient. Scientists are looking at cartilage transplants in the future which could lessen the amount of pain.

Knee Popping Explained

Knee popping and associated pain is an extremely common problem experienced by many and there are many possible causes for it. The only distinguishable way between various factors is the presence of pain that comes along with it. Painless popping is often insignificant whereas painful popping is an indication of something serious underlying. Let’s attempt to solve some mysteries of knee popping.

Usually, knee popping is because the knee cap is loose. This can result from injury or ageing related wear and tear issues. Weak quadriceps muscles can also contribute to this knee popping phenomenon as it is inadequate to support the expansion and contraction motion of the knee.

Bubbles

Painless popping is usually due to the presence of bubbles in the joints. Bubbles are formed when there is a difference in pressure at the joint, allowing for the spontaneous formation of tiny air bubbles. When movements are attempted, the bubbles will be burst and thus emitting a popping sound. This is going to be a closed cycle since bubbles will continue to form due to the pressure difference. The scientific term for it is called cavitation and this is harmless.

Ligaments stretching

We have soft tissues located throughout our joints and movements will cause these tendons and ligaments to stretch slightly. Since they are elastic, they will return back to their original shape after the load is released and this will produce a popping sound, similar to the analogy of a rubber band stretching. This does not cause any soft tissue damage and is harmless.

Mechanical popping

Mechanical popping is due to the presence of an existing injury, commonly a loose cartilage. As the loose cartilage is free to move about in the joint, it will cause a flapping movement when the leg is moving, causing a popping sound. Since it is due to injury, medical attention will need to be sought to repair the loose cartilage.

Arthritis

Arthritis is effectively wear and tear and it causes the cartilage to get thinner and thinner. As the cartilage gets thinner and friction occurs during movement, both surfaces will rub against each other, resulting in a popping sound. It can also be quite painful for some patients to bear.

Since there are different contributions to knee popping, it is difficult to pin point exactly to the exact cause of it. Painless knee popping will not affect your daily lifestyle but painful ones will and can lead to degradation in the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy.

Does Cracking Knuckles Give You Arthritis?

Cracking knuckles is a bad habit most males have. It seems to give them a sense of security and power. So what really causes that cracking sound? Well, our knuckles are covered by the synovial capsule which is filled with synovial fluid. There are also gases that are dissolved in the fluid such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. When the knuckle is cracked, the synovial capsule is stretched and the internal pressure is lowered, creating a bubble which eventually bursts, creating that popping sound. This is also the reason why you are unable to crack your knuckles continuously due to the need for the gases and bubbles to form. However, many people are extremely concerned with relationship between cracking knuckles and arthritis. There are 2 major types of arthritis namely the inflammatory and degenerative types. For inflammatory arthritis, it is largely due to autoimmunity. Degenerative arthritis is those associated with wear and tear and has a closer similarity with cracking of knuckles. Let’s try to clarify those doubts in this article.

Cracking fingers seem to relieve stresses and provide a pleasurable feeling similar to Thai Massages where various joints in your body are cracked by the masseuse. Well, cracking knuckles does not increase the chances of getting arthritis. Various studies have not only conducted experiments on people who crack their knuckles, they also investigated people who frequently crack every few minutes. However, the results concluded that there was no difference in the rates of osteoarthritis with the cracking of knuckles. Not only that, no visible deformation was caused to the fingers due to prolonged cracking. Some research also found out that subjects who crack their fingers frequently have strong fingers compared to the control group. While cracking of knuckles may not seem to cause arthritis, they may lead to other complications. Researchers found out that habitual knuckle crackers are more likely to suffer from hand swelling and loss of strength. Constant cracking will keep stretching the finger ligaments, causing damages to the fingers.  In short, they concluded that knuckle cracking results in functional hand impairment.

While knuckle cracking does not have a directly related to arthritis, it can lead to future problems such as swelling and loss of strength. Arthritis is after all more common in the elderly due to ageing. There are also no benefits to cracking your fingers. Instead, the cons outweigh the pros by a large extent. Try to cut down this bad habit of yours today!

Symptoms of Arthritis

The signs and symptoms of arthritis are misleading. They are similar to normal injuries and people tend to ignore them, thinking that it will go away on its own after some time. However, it is important to identify the symptoms early and start treatment fast. Once arthritis gets serious, it can cause a severe impact on how you lead your life. Stiffness accompanied with swelling and pains in the joints are onset symptoms of arthritis. This is especially amplified after long durations of inactivity such as waking up in the morning. What are other symptoms of arthritis? Let’s talk about them below.

Joint Pain

Arthritis causes abnormal amounts of water and fluid to build up, causing swelling of joints. The excess fluids will interrupt the balance in the soft tissues, causing the immune system to attack it and cause pain and tenderness.

Inflammation

The immune system of a patient suffering from arthritis is in a confused state and it will mistakenly attack the healthy tissues, causing chronic pain and inflammation. Not only will the tissue alone be affected, the surrounding healthy tissues will all fall prey to attacks as well.

Stiffness

Stiffness occurs due to a 3 part process that happens during arthritis. Firstly, the joint lining gets inflamed due to the reasons mentioned above. This will cause the joints to have limited ability to function properly. Secondly, growth of cells and cell division causes the Synovial membrane to thicken. The inflamed cells will also secrete enzymes that aids in the digestion of bones and soft tissues such as the cartilage.

Loss in range of motion

Arthritis suffers will lose their full range of motion. The ability to move and fully utilise a joint is severely depleted. Therefore, exercises that help to regain range of motion should be performed frequently.

Numbness

Numbness indicates the involvement of nerves and this can lead to more serious implications. Some patients who experience numbness do not know that they are suffering from arthritis. In serious cases, even turning the head can cause severe pain and amplify the symptoms. Nerve irritation will cause the body to become weak and in-depth diagnostic is required.

Identifying the symptoms of arthritis early can help to prevent joint damage and treatment can be administered quicker. Arthritis can be passed down from generations so if your family has a history of arthritis, you will need to perform health checks regularly.

Why Does Cold Weather Causes Pain in Our Joints?

Do you have an elder at home who seems to be very accurate with her prediction on when the rain will come? They always tell you that once they experience pain in the joint, it will rain soon after. Medically wise, it is still an unsolved mystery about the exact relation between painful joints with cold weather. For a long time, cold and rainy weather has been linked to joint problems and arthritis and these affect areas such as the elbow, wrist, shoulders and knees.

Most people with arthritis or joint problems will suffer pain when the weather changes for the worse. It is largely due to the change in atmospheric pressure. Located in our joints are a lot of sensory nerves which are extremely sensitive to any changes to pressure. Cold weather will cause the linings at the joints to constrict, causing pain and discomfort to patients. Cold weather also restricts the circulation blood flow through the body. As a result, it can cause further inflammation in the joints. Another simple explanation is that during cold and wet weather conditions, movements are severely limited. Most of us will not feel like moving around and want to simply waste our time at home. This lack of movement can cause our body to stiffen up and cause pain in the joints. The natural body mechanism also contributes to joint pain during cold weather. The natural defence mechanism of our body is to divert all the blood from the rest of our body to protect the core of it at the centre of the body. As such, it will divert away and restrict flow to blood to places further from the heart such as the fingers and legs. Due to a reduced blood blow to these extremities, it can cause a lot of problems for people especially those suffering from arthritis.

There is however no strong evidence between cold weather and joint pain although people do experience an increase in joint pain during cold weather. You can try to deal with it with some simple methods. Try to always keep your body covered in thick and warm clothes whenever the weather changes. This will help to proper the flow of blood through your body and reduce joint inflammation. A cup of hot tea or coffee can always help to bring warmth to the rest of your body, relieving some of the symptoms.

 

Top 5 Most Common Types of Arthritis

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “arthritis“? Some of the common things include old age and painful joints. This is actually quite accurate! Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and this is more common in people of certain age, especially those above 50 years old. There is currently no cure for arthritis. Arthritis occurs in many different forms and there are more than 100 types of them. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the more common ones.

Rheumatic Arthritis

Rheumatic arthritis is a disease of the immune system. The function of the immune system is to protect our body and defend against any foreign intruders in the form of viruses and bacteria. However, rheumatic arthritis causes the immune system to go haywire. Instead of protecting us, the immune system attacks us instead and these slow and steady attacks causes’ great damages to the structures of our body including the joints, muscles and organs.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint diseases which results from overuse of the various joints. Osteoarthritis does not happen at an older age. Instead, it can happen to people as young as 20 years old, especially if they use their joints much more than others. Sports injuries can also cause osteoarthritis. A patient suffering from osteoarthritis has his joint cartilage broken down. The main function of the cartilage is to absorb weight and shock and to cushion the joints. Without it, injuries and accelerated wear and tear can happen to people.

Lupus

Lupus is another disease of the immune system. Acting on the same principle as Rheumatic arthritis, the immune system attacks the healthy components of the body, especially the joints. Not only does Lupus cause inflammation of the joint, it can also cause problems such as swelling and high blood pressure.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness of the joints but unlike other forms of arthritis, it does not cause any inflammation to the joint. As a result, any damages to the joints are not caused by fibromyalgia. The common places affected are the ligaments, tendons and tissues.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

As its name suggest, Juvenile idiopathic arthritis occurs in juveniles. It is a chronic disorder that causes serious disability to children. The most commonly affected places are the joints and it causes immense pain, swelling and tenderness of the joints.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis out there and they are unique in their own ways. Before seeking medical attention, you should try to determine the type of arthritis you are suffering from. Arthritis causes pain, swelling and discomfort at areas such as the joints and they can cause simple activities such as walking a daunting task.

Unravel the Mystery of Shoulder Pain

The function of the shoulder joint is to provide mobility to the shoulder and it is one of the parts of the body which is heavily used every single day. Many people suffer from shoulder pain. Many different reasons can result in shoulder pain and it is important to know the exact orthopaedic reason and only then can the correct diagnosis and treatment be made. Shoulder pain can suddenly happen and many people are unsure of it. Let’s try to unravel the mystery of shoulder pain today.

Bursitis

Since the shoulder joint is heavily used, there are a lot of rubbing actions throughout the day. There are small fluid filled sacs called bursae to cushion the bones and the soft tissues. These will help to reduce friction and increase gliding motions. However, due to excessive repetitive usage of the shoulder joints, inflammation can happen on the bursae, leading to pain and swelling known as bursitis. This can cause difficulty in performing simple actions such as lifting of the hand or wearing of clothes.

Impingement

Impingement of the shoulder happens when the shoulder blade exerts too much pressure onto the surrounding soft tissues such as the bursa or the tendons, causing bursitis. Over a period of time, shoulder impingement can possible result in a rotator cuff tear.

Shoulder instability

Shoulder instability can be due to overuse of the shoulder joint or due to an injury which causes the arm bone to be loose and slip out of the socket joint. The shoulder joint acts as a ball and socket model where mobility can be easily obtained without much limitation. However when the ball and socket is loose, it can cause subluxation. The surrounding ligaments and tendons are weakened and they are unable to fully support the motions, causing pain and instability.

Tendon tears

Tearing of the tendons could possibly occur due to ageing or injuries, overuse or wear and tear. Depending on the severity of the tear, it can be a partial one or a complete one. A complete tendon tear will result in tremendous pain and loss of stability.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a common cause of shoulder pain and the most common form is osteoarthritis or wear and tear. Arthritis usually occurs during mid-age around 30 years old and over time, it will become worse. Osteoarthritis can also happen at a young age due to injuries or overuse and it will result in rotator cuff tendon tears or inflammation. Arthritis will cause simple daily motions to be almost impossible and you will often experience stiffness of the joints.

There are many reasons that can cause shoulder pain. I hope that the above article had help to unravel some of the mysteries and after you know the exact reason, you will be able to use the correct treatment method.