Types of Arthritis that Affect the Hands and Wrist
Arthritis comes in different forms, several of which more commonly develop in the joints of the hands and wrist, including:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): The most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones wears down over time. In the hand, osteoarthritis can affect the base of the thumb and the joints of the fingers.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): An autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, leading to inflammation and joint damage. This form of arthritis typically affects joints on both sides of the body, so if one wrist or hand is affected, the other one usually is too.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: Associated with the skin condition psoriasis and can cause joint pain and swelling, along with skin rashes.
- Post-traumatic Arthritis: Develops after an injury to the hand or wrist, such as a fracture or dislocation. The injury may damage the cartilage and/or disrupt how the joint functions, leading to wear and tear over time.
- Reactive Arthritis: Develops in response to an infection elsewhere in the body, such as a gastrointestinal or genitourinary infection.
- Infectious (Septic) Arthritis: Caused by a direct infection of the joint by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. This type of arthritis is less common but can severely damage the joint if not treated promptly.