What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, commonly known as arthritis, is another potential cause of night-time hand pain. Osteoarthritis causes localized pain and stiffness in the joints that it affects. These symptoms are worse when the joints have not moved for a while because the tissues become cool. Therefore, osteoarthritis is often painful first thing in the morning.
Osteoarthritis of the hand usually affects the base of the thumb, joints closest to the fingertips, and middle joints of the fingers. It occurs when the smooth surface or cartilage that lines the joint capsule has become worn away.
This leads to an inflammatory response that causes small bony growths to form called osteophytes. The cause of osteoarthritis is thought to be rooted in joint trauma, either suddenly or over time. This trauma leads to structural changes that narrow the joint capsule leading to progressive joint damage.
- The doctor will consider symptoms at an appointment and see if they align with hand osteoarthritis. These may include being over 45 or localization of the pain to the joints. The doctor may also examine the hands for physical signs of osteoarthritis. Diagnostic tools may also include x-rays and blood tests to rule out other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (another form of arthritis where you’re immune system attacks your joints) though imaging is not usually necessary.