What Is MCP Joint Arthritis?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

It's no secret that arthritis is a painful and often debilitating condition that can very quickly hinder one's quality of life. As arthritis can develop in numerous guises and in various different locations of the body, different arthritic conditions present varying symptoms and related problems.

MCP joint arthritis specifically targets the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints, which are the knuckle bones situated closest to where the fingers meet the hand. If you are suffering from MCP joint arthritis or feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of the condition, read on to find out more about the condition, the symptoms that can manifest as a result of MCP joint of arthritis, and what treatment options may be suitable for you.

What Is MCP Joint Arthritis?

Broadly speaking, MCP joint arthritis is a type of arthritis that specifically affects the MCP joints on either hand. Arthritis is an umbrella term referring to inflammation and stiffness of the joints, and when this occurs in the knuckles it can significantly reduce one's normal functionality.

Ordinarily, the MCP joints are responsible for enabling the fingers to effectively pinch and grip. However, when they succumb to MCP joint arthritis, such movements become painful and, in some cases, even impossible. It is most common in the thumb and index fingers due to the motion of pinching, and may vary in severity depending on the stage to which the condition has developed.

Joints of the Hand
MCP joints are the knuckles closest to the hand

What Are the Symptoms of MCP Joint Arthritis?

As with most arthritic conditions, the symptoms can be both easy to spot and difficult to define. This is because many of the signs of arthritis may also occur in other conditions affecting the same area. While a professional medical diagnosis should always be sought before undergoing any kind of treatment, the list below outlining symptoms of MCP joint arthritis may help you identify whether or not this is the condition from which you are suffering.

  • Painful movements: One symptom that will be impossible to ignore is the pain that arises when you move your fingers. This is likely to be more intense when you are gripping or grasping onto something, and can vary in severity.
  • Inflammation: A common symptom of arthritis, the skin around the MCP joints is likely to become inflamed. This can be recognised by a redness, a tenderness to the touch, and an unnatural heat on the surface of the skin.
  • Swelling: The joint may become noticeably swollen, which will be a byproduct of inflammation. The swelling may be hot to the touch, and can be uncomfortable and even painful.
  • Weakened hands: Arthritic hands will degenerate, becoming weaker in their ability to perform tasks that typically required little effort. This can be identified both by an inability to properly grasp objects and a painful sensation when trying to grip with the fingers.
  • Ulnar deviation: Although it is likely that the previous symptoms will have manifested before ulnar deviation occurs, it is a symptom to bear in mind, as it defines the way in which the MCP joints can gradually deviate towards the little pinkie finger side of the hand. 

How Do I Treat MCP Joint Arthritis?

Once you have received your diagnosis for MCP joint arthritis, you can begin to consider the various treatment options available to you to help you relieve pain and better manage the condition. Below are some of the treatments that may best suit your degree of MCP joint arthritis. Please be advised that professional medical advice should always be sought before undergoing any kind of treatment(s).

Surgical Procedures

In more severe cases of MCP joint arthritis, surgery may be required. This can take form of:

  • Synovectomy, wherein inflamed synovial tissue is removed from around the joint to decrease swelling.
  • Cortisone injections, which involves the injecting of cortisone steroids to lower the inflammation of the joints.
  • Joint fusion, where the ends of the MCP joint bones are fixed together with screws or wires.
  • Joint replacement, where the joint is removed and replaced with a new one, particularly following deformity.

Inflammatory Medication

Surgery may not always be required, particularly in milder cases of MCP joint arthritis. Gaining control of the inflammation and swelling can help reduce the pain and debilitating symptoms, and in such cases your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) to help relieve the pain and take back some control over the condition.

Deformity Prevention

As arthritis is a degenerative condition, it can often be managed but not cured. With this in mind, it is important to prevent against some of the more severe symptoms of the condition as best as possible. Wearing a suitable wrist brace, such as one that stabilises the MCP joints, can help to prevent against such symptoms as ulnar deviation from occurring.

Wrist Supports and Braces

Wrist supports and braces can also be pivotal in easing and managing MCP joint arthritis both before and after surgery. Braces that compress the area can help to reduce swelling and provide a comforting support when inflammation occurs. Post-operative care can also be provided by wrist braces that encourage a quickened rate of healing following surgical procedures, and they can also protect the wrist and hand from further damage or complications.

If you are seeking a wrist support to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with MCP joint arthritis, or you're planning ahead of your operation, you can view our full range of wrist supports for MCP joint arthritis by following the button below.

 

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