Are pain and stiffness keeping you from doing the things you love? The symptoms are a common sign of arthritis, which is a specialty of the trained team at Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center.

With board-certified hand surgeon David Glapern, MD, on staff, our practice offers accurate diagnosis and treatment so you can return to day-to-day activities and hobbies. Find out how an arthritis specialist in Richmond can help you by calling the office or booking a consultation online today.

What Is Arthritis?

A common, treatable condition, arthritis is an inflammation of your joints. The surfaces of all the joints in your body are lined with cartilage, a smooth surface that cushions your bones and reduces friction. Arthritis most commonly occurs when cartilage wears out and your bones rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation.

There are many types of arthritis, but four types are more commonly found in the hands. These include MP joint arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Each of these types has unique symptoms, causes, and treatments. It is crucial to have a Richmond arthritis specialist diagnose you correctly so you can receive the best treatment possible.

Arthritis affects your hands, fingers, and elbows, though one of the most common places is the carpometacarpal joint in your hand. This joint is found at the base of your palm, on the thumb side. If you have arthritis here, you’ll likely find it painful to open jars, turn a key in a door, or perform activities that require a strong grip.

Why Choose a Board-Certified Hand Surgeon to Treat Hand Arthritis?

There are several types of physicians who are qualified to treat arthritis, including your primary care physician, rheumatologist, and orthopedic surgeon. When you have arthritis in your hands, you want the specialized knowledge and expertise of a hand surgeon. While other physicians are qualified to offer care, a hand surgeon in Richmond is the expert in the structure and function of the hand, how they interact with movement, and the journey to recovery after an injury or arthritis flareup.

Arthritic inflammation in the hand can cause nerve compression and joint damage that requires the delicate touch of an expert who understands the tiny structures in your hands. A board-certified hand surgeon can offer a range of treatments that improve your quality of life and support individualized rehabilitation to work toward restoring function as much as possible while minimizing pain, discomfort, and swelling.

Diagnosing Arthritis

At Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center, Dr. Galpern begins by taking a complete medical history. During your physical exam, he checks your joints for redness, swelling, and warmth. He may ask you to perform certain movements so he can assess your range of motion.

To complete your diagnosis, Dr. Galpern may recommend lab tests of your blood or urine or diagnostic imaging tests, including:

  • X-rays
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound

You might be asked to provide a sample of your joint fluid for testing. To take a sample, our Richmond arthritis specialist will numb the area and then withdraw a small amount of fluid with a needle.

How Is Arthritis Treated?

With a conservative approach to arthritis treatment, the Richmond team at Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center creates a treatment plan that’s right for your condition. Dr. Galpern generally only recommends treatment when pain and weakness make it difficult for you to perform day-to-day activities. He can help with lifestyle recommendations that may help delay treatment, such as activities that support hand strength.

Various forms of treatment are used for arthritis. Dr. Galpern may recommend:

  • Splint: helps to rest your joint and relieve inflammation
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): oral medications or creams that target pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroids: medications, such as prednisone and cortisone, that are injected to reduce inflammation

Depending on your condition, you may benefit from joint replacement surgery. This involves replacing a worn joint in your thumb, wrist, or elbow with a new, man-made one. Other surgical options include fusion and joint elimination.

When to See a Doctor for Arthritis

Arthritis joint pain may sneak up slowly. Sometimes, the pain and discomfort are relatively minor and subside on their own after several days of modified activity and rest. As with all chronic conditions, early treatment is often the best treatment. While Dr. Glapern uses a conservative approach to medications and splinting, depending on your condition, there are other lifestyle changes the team at Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center can recommend that help lower your discomfort and may reduce the number of early flare-ups.

For example, using ice or heat before and after activities that typically cause discomfort can help. Not everyone responds the same, so it Is important for you to experiment with both to see which has a greater impact on your discomfort.

Some find relief with rub-on creams. The effectiveness of the cream depends on your reaction to these over-the-counter options. Two types of creams that have demonstrated effectiveness in studies are capsaicin cream and CBD. Capsaicin is the spicy compound in hot peppers. In one capsaicin study, 80% of participants experienced a reduction in pain by two weeks.

CBD is one of the bioactive ingredients in cannabis. It does not have psychoactive effects. Some people get good relief with CBD cream, as well as improvements in their sleep, while others do not report any improvements.

Before adding any over-the-counter treatments, it is important to talk with your arthritis provider in Richmond, who can help you make choices that reduce your pain level and contribute toward improving or maintaining hand function.

Call Today to Schedule a Consultation With Our Arthritis Specialist in Richmond

Dr. Galpern is ready to discuss whether these treatments are right for you based on your individual symptoms, overall health, and expectations. If you are ready to explore the right treatment plan to help you enjoy a more active life, call or schedule a consultation online today with Comprehensive Hand Surgery Center.

Comprehensive Hand Surgery
Phone(804) 506-3050
2819 North Parham Road Richmond Suite 100, VA 23294 Get Directions