Orlando, Florida – Finger arthritis is one of the most common forms of osteoarthritis, and the prevalence is expected to increase as the population ages.1 Finger arthritis causes pain, loss of function, decreased ability to grip objects with the hand, and it reduces overall quality of life.1 Healthcare professionals can diagnose finger osteoarthritis through a detailed history and physical examination along with radiological studies, such as hand x-rays.
Finger osteoarthritis may be caused by a single major injury or repetitive use, i.e., small injuries that accumulate over time.2 For example, NBA player Kobe Bryant has severe osteoarthritis in his right index finger. He likely developed the condition from a combination of major injury and continued, repetitive use while playing basketball.
The current goal of finger osteoarthritis treatment is to alleviate symptoms such as pain. Thus, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly prescribed treatment. NSAIDs may be taken orally or applied topically. Likewise, topical capsaicin has also been used to treat finger osteoarthritis. While splints, the application of heat or ice, and even assistive devices have been tried, they result in little to no improvement.1Physical therapy exercises may decrease pain and increase strength and range of motion. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, there are no disease modifying drugs available for finger osteoarthritis.1 Occasionally, steroid injections may be used to treat finger osteoarthritis, but their benefits are limited.1 If nonsurgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief, surgery may be attempted.