If you suffer from chronic hand pain that won't go away no matter what you do, speak to an orthopedic surgeon right away. Pain in one or both hands can indicate a number of things, including rheumatoid arthritis. If you put off seeing a bone and joint specialist for an exam or treatment, your chronic hand pain can become worse. Here's how rheumatoid arthritis affects you and tips to use at home for temporary pain relief.
What's Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common causes of pain in the hands and fingers. The condition develops when the cartilage and fluids between the joints wear down and deteriorate. The unprotected joints eventually become swollen and painful, even when you don't use or move your hands and wrists.
An orthopedic surgeon can examine your body to see if your RA is confined just to your hands and wrists or if it developed elsewhere, such as your hips, knees and toes. An orthopedist may also refer you to a secondary specialist for care, such as a heart and lung doctor.
Because RA is an autoimmune disease, it can cause problems in your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Autoimmune conditions develop when the body's immune system attacks its own organs and tissues. In order to protect your health completely and provide the right treatment, it's important for an orthopedic doctor to locate and diagnose all of the problems your RA caused in your body.
What Are Your Treatment Options for RA?
Traditional treatments for RA include taking pain medications and physical therapy classes on a set schedule to ease the inflammation in your joints. If you developed problems in your heart, lungs and blood systems, you may expect to see several specialists during your treatment. In order for your RA treatment to be successful, your other health issues must be managed as well.
An orthopedist may choose to surgically repair your damaged joints if the traditional treatments mentioned above fail to work or control your RA. A surgeon can replace the joints with an artificial material, such as titanium plates. Titanium is a biocompatible material that doesn't harm the body or its tissues after placement. To help you understand more about joint replacement surgery, an orthopedic surgeon can discuss the expected treatment plan with you in private.
For more information about your hand pain and RA, contact Northwoods Family Orthopaedics SC or a similar organization.