Arthritic Care

We’ve been treating arthritis at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center for more than 35 years and take a collaborative approach on behalf of our patients. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons work together with our specially trained therapists in order to develop a treatment program that is right for you.

Arthritis can often be treated conservatively, ranging from medication to splinting or therapy. In severe cases, however, surgery may be required to provide function and mobility to the affected joints. Because the hand is comprised of intricate bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves and blood vessels, it’s important to choose a surgeon who specializes in this type of surgery. Our surgeons perform hundreds of arthritis joint replacement surgeries each year and have expertise utilizing the most state-of-the-art surgery techniques available.

If you suffer from joint stiffness, swelling and pain debilitating enough to keep you from performing even the simplest everyday functions, you are not alone. Arthritis affects nearly one in every five adults in the U.S. Arthritis is a disease that irritates or destroys the joints. It can affect any joint in your body, including the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand and can be caused by a variety of factors. Trauma or injury, obesity, joint instability, immune system problems, inflammation and genetic predisposition are some of the most common. While arthritis is more common in older people, anyone can develop it, and it’s more common in women.

If you suffer from the signs and symptoms of arthritis including, hand numbness, swelling and stiffness, finger deformity or shoulder/elbow pain, we can help.

Read our “What Is Thumb Arthritis?” Patient Handout

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms talk to your physician about the possibility that you may have arthritis.

  • Joint pain and tenderness
  • Joint swelling and stiffness
  • Joint deformity
  • Numbness in the hand and arm
  • Shoulder/elbow pain
  • Increased difficulty with daily activities such as turning keys, buttoning buttons, straightening your elbow and raising your arm over your head

Learn what’s causing your shoulder pain and how you can get relief

Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition occurring with age or from an injury. In the hand the knuckles, fingers and base of the thumb are the most common areas affected, but this can also develop in the elbow and shoulder. In joints with osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears down, leaving the underlying bone surfaces to grind on each other.

Osteoarthritis may be treated conservatively with a combination of splints, therapy and medications to relieve pain and decrease joint inflammation. If these treatments fail, we may recommend surgery.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the lining of your joints and tendons. This causes pain, swelling and joint deformity. Because rheumatoid arthritis involves the body’s immune system, it can impact multiple joints in the upper extremity, including the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.

There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, however, the disease’s progress can be controlled with medications as well as cortisone injections. Splinting, light exercise and the use of adaptive devices may also be helpful. In some cases surgery is performed to correct deformities, relieve pain and improve function.

woman holding shoulder

Helpful Tips for Managing your Arthritis

When you visit The Indiana Hand Center, please be prepared to provide the following information during your appointment:

  • A list of medications you are taking and any allergies you have
  • The location of your joint pain and how long it has been present
  • How often the pain is present and what helps it go away
  • The types of activities you perform on a daily basis that are painful or hindered by your condition
  • If you experience swelling, numbness or redness around a joint
  • If you are currently taking any over-the-counter medicines, supplements or herbs
  • Any past joint or trauma injuries
  • Any family history of arthritis

If you or a family member currently has arthritis, discover small ways to make life a little easier – from modifying daily tasks to utilizing inexpensive devices making basic activities simpler.

  • Moist heat can be helpful to relieve arthritis pain and stiffness. Ask your Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center physician how to use this effectively.
  • Arthritis can sometimes cause fatigue. Fight this tired feeling by taking short breaks regularly throughout the work day. Ask your Indiana Hand Center physician if a light exercise program can benefit your endurance.
  • Schedule your day so tasks requiring the most energy are completed when your energy levels are at their highest.
  • If you work on a computer, proper body positioning is extremely important.
  • Pack handbags, briefcases or luggage as light as possible. Use ergonomically designed carrying handles when carrying grocery or trash bags.
  • For prolonged telephone use, purchase a headset that lessens the pressure on your neck, shoulder or elbow while talking. Consider a speakerphone for hands-free conversation.
  • When cooking, use ergonomically friendly tools such as an electric can/jar opener, utensils with cushioned grips and spring-activated scissors.
  • When purchasing clothing, buy shirts with larger buttons that are easier to work with. Button hooks with special grips are also available to make buttoning simpler.
  • Aids such as lamp switch enlargers, special door knob/key turners, gas cap turning aids, zipper pulls, dressing sticks, long shoehorns and sock pulls are available to make daily tasks easier.

Joint Replacement

The board certified orthopedic surgeons at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center are recognized across the country and around the world for performing joint replacement surgeries of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand. Our physicians have co-developed prosthetic devises widely utilized today in numerous upper extremity joint replacement procedures. They have also pioneered surgical techniques that are practiced and taught throughout the field of orthopedic medicine.

Our goal is to provide patients with effective treatment plans, ranging from conservative options to surgical intervention to relieve pain and regain normal functionality. The Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center performs hundreds of joint replacement surgeries each year. Our team of orthopedic surgeons, certified therapists and nursing staff has the expertise needed to provide our patients with the latest technology and care required for successful outcomes.

Joint replacement surgery (known as arthroplasty) involves removing a damaged joint and replacing it with a new artificial joint called a prosthesis. Joint replacement in the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand is often performed to treat severe arthritis because it relieves pain and increases range-of-motion and function. It can also be utilized for joints destroyed by trauma or injury, severe fractures and for torn/deteriorated tendons and cartilage.
Our joint replacement expertise includes:

  • Basal joint of the thumb
  • Proximal Interphalangeal (PIP) joint of the hand
  • Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint of the hand
  • Radiocarpal joint of the wrist
  • Humeral/radial/ulnar joints of the elbow
  • Humeral joint of the shoulder

Disclaimer: The materials on this website have been prepared for informational purposes only and do not constitute advice. You should not act or rely upon any medical information on this website without a physician’s advice. The information contained within this website is not intended to serve as a substitution for a thorough examination from a qualified healthcare provider. The display of this information is not intended to create a health care provider-patient relationship between the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center and you.