The hand and wrist have multiple small joints that work together to produce motion. This gives you the fine motion needed to thread a needle or tie a shoelace. When the joints become affected with arthritis, activities of daily living can be difficult. Arthritis can occur in multiple areas of the hand and wrist. It can have multiple causes.
All arthritic joints lose cartilage, which works as nature’s “shock absorber.” Cartilage provides a smooth gliding surface for the joint. When the cartilage becomes worn or damaged, or is lost due to disease or trauma, the joint no longer has a painless, mobile area of motion.
The body attempts to make up for the lost cartilage. It produces fluid in the joint lining (synovium), which tries to act like a cushion, like water in a waterbed. But it also causes the joint to swell. This restricts motion. The swelling causes stretching of the joint covering (capsule), which causes pain.
Over time, if the arthritis is not treated, the bones that make up the joint can lose their normal shape. This causes more pain and further limits motion.« Back to Glossary Index