How to tell if you have arthritis in your hands and fingers

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Health and Wellness

If you’re feeling aches and pains in your hands, it might not just be fatigue. Different kinds of arthritis affect the hands and fingers differently. In all cases, the pain can burn, ache or feel sharp and restrict your range of motion, making daily tasks more difficult. Your hands and fingers may also feel stiff, especially in the morning. Discover the telltale signs of arthritis and how to tackle it head-on.

Signs of arthritis in the hands and fingers

  • Osteoarthritis: swelling and twisting of joints at the bottom of the thumb, the middle knuckles and the knuckles closest to the fingertips
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: pain, swelling and inflammation in the knuckles closest to the palm of the hand as well as the wrist
  • Psoriatic arthritis: swelling in the entire finger or across multiple fingers

If you’re experiencing signs or symptoms of arthritis, speak with your health-care provider and get diagnosed promptly. Your health-care provider may perform a variety of tests and exams to assess your symptoms and rule out other forms of hand or finger pain, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

How to protect your joints:

  • Take breaks to avoid holding your hands in the same position for long periods of time
  • Spread out fine-motor tasks over several days instead of one
  • Use both hands to perform tasks and lessen pressure on a single hand
  • Slide objects across a counter or table instead of gripping or lifting them
  • Use assistive devices and kitchen tools that are easy to grip
  • Opt for large handles on toothbrushes, writing utensils and other household items
  • Replace doorknobs and taps with lever-style handles
  • Prop up a book or tablet to read rather than holding it

It’s also possible to strengthen your hands and fingers by doing “range of motion” exercises, which can be found online through Arthritis Society Canada. Try applying mineral oil to your hands, putting on a large pair of rubber dish gloves and immersing your hands in a pan of hot water while you go through the exercises for five minutes or so.

If self-care strategies aren’t enough to deal with pain from arthritis in your hands and fingers, talk to your health-care provider about other options, such as prescription medications, therapies or surgical options.

Check your symptoms and learn how you can manage joint pain at

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