What causes arthritis in the fingers?

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Arthritis in the fingers can be caused by two different scenarios, which are both diagnosed and treated in a similar fashion. However, a full set of tests are required to properly identify the cause of the arthritis, which will then allow the doctor to properly treat the symptoms.

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The main types of arthritis that affect the fingers are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis of the fingers is caused by degeneration of the joints from overuse or injuries that did not heal properly. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the joints.


Symptoms of arthritis in the fingers include pain and inflammation. Arthritic fingers may also swell and feel warm to the touch, become weak and unable to grip, or become deformed.


Diagnosing arthritis involves a physical examination, complete medical history and a series of X-rays. Blood tests may also be done to check for the antibody "rheumatoid factor" to properly diagnose or rule out the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis.


Anti-inflammatory medication or an injection of cortisone into the finger joint to control pain are the most common non-surgical treatments for arthritis in the fingers. Physical and occupational therapy may also be prescribed, and in very severe cases, surgery may be necessary to fuse the joints together, decrease pain and prevent deformities in fingers afflicted with arthritis.

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