Osteoarthritis of the Wrist

If you’re suffering from finger pain, hand pain, wrist pain, or any upper extremity injuries, learn how Dr. AJ Julka and JIS Orthopedics can help you get back to living your life without limits. To schedule a consultation, click the button below!

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Osteoarthritis of the wrist is a joint condition that affects thousands of people every year, resulting in pain and joint immobility. This joint disorder can cause swelling, stiffness, difficulty performing daily activities, and overall joint pain. 

If you are experiencing wrist pain that is impacting your daily life, schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic specialists JIS Orthopedics. With a specialized approach to treating osteoarthritis pain, we can provide tailored pain relief solutions that are designed to meet your needs.

We have locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH. Take control of your health today by contacting us for an appointment. We look forward to helping you find the pain relief you need! 

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the joints. It is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint, which causes pain and swelling in the affected area.

Over time, this can lead to painful bone-on-bone contact and deformity. Osteoarthritis usually occurs gradually over a long period of time and is most common in people over the age of 65. It should not be confused with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, which are autoimmune disorders.

How Does Osteoarthritis Affect the Hand and Wrist Joint?

Osteoarthritis (OA) can affect any joint in the body, but it is particularly common in finger joints and small joints of the hand and wrist. The finger joints are especially vulnerable to OA because they are so small and typically bear more weight than larger joints, such as the hip or knee

Hand osteoarthritis causes painful inflammation in these finger joints, leading to painful stiffness and movement difficulties that can interfere with daily activities like gripping objects or writing. In severe cases, OA can lead to irreversible deformities of finger joints, affecting finger motion and grip strength.

What Causes Osteoarthritis of the Hand and Wrist?

Osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist occurs when cartilage, which cushions the bones in your joints, wears down over time. This type of arthritis can cause stiffness, tenderness, and pain in hands and wrists.

It is most commonly seen in older people but can also affect those with a family history of osteoarthritis or other risk factors such as obesity, repetitive strain injuries, and certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. 

Some of the factors that increase wear and tear on joint cartilage may include: 

  • Age-related degeneration over time
  • Previous injuries to the joint
  • Excess weight lifting
  • Certain occupations involving frequent use of the hands
  • Genetic predisposition for developing osteoarthritis
  • Hormonal changes
  • Underlying medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or psoriatic arthritis.

What Are the Symptoms of Hand and Wrist Osteoarthritis?

Some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis in the hand and wrist include: 

  • Painful joints (thumb, middle finger, ring finger, and base of the thumb)
  • Swelling around the fingers, thumbs, or wrist
  • Stiffness in the fingers and wrists 
  • Creaking or cracking noises when using your hands 
  • Decreased grip strength
  • Painful bumps on the knuckles (Heberden’s nodes and Bouchard’s nodes)

If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare professional.

How is Osteoarthritis of the Hand and Wrist Diagnosed?

When diagnosing osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist, a physical examination is usually performed by a doctor. This may involve examining the joints and checking tenderness or swelling. X-rays are often used to confirm the diagnosis, as they can detect bone changes that occur with osteoarthritis. 

Other tests, such as blood tests, may be done to rule out other causes of joint pain or inflammation. Generally, blood tests do not detect osteoarthritis but can help to identify any underlying conditions which could be causing similar symptoms. In some cases, an MRI scan may be done to check for soft tissue damage in the affected area.

Treating Osteoarthritis of the Wrist and Hand

Osteoarthritis of the wrist and hand is typically treated with joint-preserving options, including medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections. 

Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with OA. Physical therapy can help improve joint movement, strength, and function. Joint injections, such as corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid, can also provide relief from pain and swelling. 

In more serious cases of OA in the hand and wrist, joint fusion or joint replacement surgery may be recommended by a doctor to relieve pain. Joint fusion involves the surgical immobilization of two bones together to reduce motion at a joint affected by arthritis.

Wrist joint replacement surgery is when a joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. Both procedures are typically done under regional anesthesia, and both involve 3-4 months of recovery time.

Managing Osteoarthritis of the Hand and Wrist

The first step is to ease pain and discomfort caused by osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist by practicing healthy habits, such as avoiding repetitive motions or lifting heavy objects. 

If you have osteoarthritis, it’s also important to stay active, maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress levels, and practice relaxation techniques. Additionally, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen can help relieve symptoms and swelling associated with this type of arthritis. 

Hand exercises can be very helpful for managing osteoarthritis symptoms as well. Exercises that focus on improving the range of motion, strength, and flexibility of the hands and wrists can help ease pain and stiffness. It’s important to consult a physical therapist or doctor before starting any exercise program so that you do not injure yourself further.


If you’re living with arthritis pain in your wrists, our orthopedic practice can help. At JIS Orthopedics, our team is committed to providing expert care and support so you can get back to the activities you enjoy. 

Don’t wait any longer for pain relief. We have locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH. Contact us today to learn more about how our treatment plans can help reduce your arthritis pain and restore your quality of life!

Medically reviewed by AJ Julka, MD


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If you’re suffering from finger pain, hand pain, wrist pain, or any upper extremity injuries, learn how Dr. AJ Julka and JIS Orthopedics can help you get back to living your life without limits. To schedule a consultation, click the button below!


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