Arthritis Hands Photo Gallery (2022)

Arthritis

Living With

Photos reveal arthritic joint damage and deformities

By

Carol Eustice

Arthritis Hands Photo Gallery (1)

Carol Eustice

Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Learn about our editorial process

Updated on April 05, 2022

Medically reviewed

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

by

Marissa Sansone, MD

Arthritis Hands Photo Gallery (2)

Medically reviewed byMarissa Sansone, MD

Marissa Sansone, MD, is a board-certified doctor of internal medicine and a current fellow in rheumatology at Yale University.She actively teaches rheumatology to medical residents and students, and peer-reviews abstracts in the journal Rheumatology.

Learn about our Medical Expert Board

You’ve probably heard that sometypes of arthritiscan lead to joint deformities.Hand deformities with rheumatoidarthritisare particularly common, as there are 25 joints which can be susceptible to damage from the disease. But what exactly does this mean?

What do these deformities look like and how can they affect the function of your hands and wrists by causing pain and a reducedrange of motion?

1:43

An Overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis

We’ve compiled a gallery of images that illustrate the effects of arthritis on the hands, but it’s important to note that these deformities are becoming much less common with early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other forms of inflammatory arthritis.

The combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNF blockers) has given many people the opportunity to prevent these problems. At the current time, it’s thought that at least 50% of people living with RA are in remission.

As you look at these pictures, you can see evidence of common arthritis issues, such asrheumatoid nodules, swelling,ulnar drift, contractures, and other problems.

Keep in mind that everyone is different. The ages and deformities present in these photos are not necessarily an indication of what the average person can expect, and the degree of symptoms any particular person will experience varies widely.

Many of these deformities are also related to disease which was present before the newer treatments for arthritis were approved.

These images will also be used to describe some of the complications as well as treatment decisions faced by those living with arthritis.

(Video) Arthritis Of The Fingers - Everything You Need To Know - Dr. Nabil Ebraheim

48-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

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This photo shows evidence of damage caused by long-term rheumatoid arthritiswhich was present before the newer anti-arthritic drugs became widely available.

In addition to disease-modifying drugs, surgery may be used to correct damage which is interfering with function. The person in this image hadcarpal tunnel release surgery.

59-Year-Old Male With Osteoarthritis

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Osteoarthritis, like other forms of arthritis, can sometimes result in significant deformities.

This image illustrates the contractures which can occur with long-standing arthritis. Though this man’s hand looks like he has had hand surgery, he has not, and contractures can appear as if surgery was performed.

18-Year-Old Female With Juvenile RA

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This image is of the hand of an 18-year-old woman who was diagnosed withjuvenile rheumatoid arthritisat the age of 2. It’s important to note that there are several different forms of JRA which can have different symptoms.

In general, the prognosis for JRA is more favorable than that of arthritis in adults.

The image here demonstrates significant swelling along with some mild joint deformity. This person has not had hand surgery.

What the woman’s smile in thisphoto also illustrates is that many people live fulfilling and enjoyable lives even with the symptoms of arthritis.

60-Year-Old Male With RA

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The image here shows joint damage related to rheumatoid arthritis as well as scars from hand surgery. Inflammation of the tendons in the hands (tenosynovitis) can result in a number of problems, such as trigger finger.

35-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

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This image shows common findings in early rheumatoid arthritis affecting the hands. Significant swelling is presentbut without significant deformity. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

35-Year-Old Female With RA (Right Hand)

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This image also shows findings consistent with early rheumatoid arthritis. Swelling is present along with early joint damage. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

47-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

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This image shows less swelling than in the above pictures of a woman with early rheumatoid arthritis. Rather, there is evidence of joint damage as well as contractures from a long-term disease. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

55-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

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The image here shows even more extensive finger and hand deformity with contractures caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The damage is most notable at the metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP joints)—the joints at the base of the fingers. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

55-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

Arthritis Hands Photo Gallery (11)

The image here depicts the palmarview of hand deformity and contractures caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Damage is often less evident with this view. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

22-Year-Old Female With RA

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The image here shows a 22-year-old woman who has been living with rheumatoid arthritis for six years. Swelling is noted as well as the beginning of joint deformity in both of her hands. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

(Video) What is Osteoarthritis (OA) of the Thumb & Fingers?

22-Year-Old Female With RA

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This image gives a better view of early hand and wrist joint deformity related to rheumatoid arthritis. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

22-Year-Old Female With RA (Right Hand)

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This image allows a closer view of the joint damage and subsequent hand deformity in​ ayoung woman with rheumatoid arthritis. The damage involves both her proximal interphalangeal joints (PCP joints)—the middle joints of the fingers, and her distal interphalangeal joints (DIP) joints—the most distal joints of the fingers. (This person has not had hand surgery.)

50-Year-Old Female With RA

Arthritis Hands Photo Gallery (15)

This image depicts what many people find surprising with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatologists and surgeons focus primarily on joint function rather than cosmetic appearance, and sometimes good function is present with even severe deformities (and vice versa).

Three hand surgeons declined to perform hand surgery because thisperson had no pain and has good grip strength and hand function.

44-Year-Old Male With RA

Arthritis Hands Photo Gallery (16)

The small peripheral joints of the hands and wrists become involved with rheumatoid arthritis, leading to contractures and deformities. This image shows the number of different joints which may be affected.

This person has rheumatoid arthritis and had surgery—a wrist synovectomy (removal of inflamedsynovial tissue) and tendon transfers involving both hands.

62-Year-Old Female With RA

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This image shows the degree of joint damage and deformity which can result from the cartilage loss and bone erosion common to rheumatoid arthritis. This type of damage is much more common with inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) than with osteoarthritis.

This photo also shows an example of the rheumatoid nodules that can occur in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. (This person did not have hand surgery.)

52-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

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This image shows the left hand of a 52-year-old woman with rheumatoid arthritis who required surgery.

She had surgery on her left hand twice for trigger finger release of her ring finger and had a tenodesis(a surgery that stabilizes a joint by anchoring a tendon to bone) of the left middle finger.

In addition, she had nodules removed from both the right and left thumbs and had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery.

52-Year-Old Female With RA (Right Hand)

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This image shows the other hand of the person in the preceding photo. In addition to the surgeries the woman had on her left hand, she had rheumatoid nodules removed from the right thumb and carpal tunnel surgery on both sides.

38-Year-Old Female With RA (Right Hand)

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Arthritis myths and misconceptions are common in Japan, too. Many people believe it is a disease that affects older people only. There are more than 700,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis in Japan.

This image of the woman’s right hand and wrist shows joint deformities and contractures, but she has not had surgery on this hand.

38-Year-Old Female With RA (Left Hand)

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This image shows the left hand of the same woman above. While her deformities and contractures are more severe (from a visual standpoint) in her right hand, it was only her left wrist which required surgery to maximize function.

50-Year-Old Female With RA

This image shows the small hand joint damage present in a woman diagnosed at the age of 45 with rheumatoid arthritis who is now 50. She has not had hand surgery.

44-Year-Old Male With RA (Right Hand)

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This image reveals some of the damage to thumb and finger joints that are common with rheumatoid arthritis.

(Video) Looking after your hands with Osteoarthritis

44-Year-Old Male With RA (Left Hand)

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This image shows the other hand of a man with rheumatoid arthritis. His left hand here is an example of ulnar drift, a common deformity associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammation of the fourth and fifth metatarsals (hand bones) increases the risk of developing ulnar drift due to the increased mobility of these joints.

7-Year-Old Female With Polyarticular JRA

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This image shows the damage to the hands of a 7-year-old girl who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis by a biopsy at the age of 10 months. The photo shows how her bone in the affected digit is actually larger than her other finger bones.

This child had two separate surgeries to release scar tissue which was causing the contracture.

7-Year-Old Female With Polyarticular JRA

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These images show the finger with a rheumatoid nodule developed by the same child with JRA.

61-Year-Old Female With RA

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People with rheumatoid arthritis have varyingdegrees of joint swelling related to their disease. It can be quite dramatic as in this example. This person has had carpal tunnel surgery on the left hand.

61-Year-Old Female With RA

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This image again shows the joint swelling in this woman with rheumatoid arthritis.

27-Year-Old Female With RA (Right Hand)

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The image here again reveals the common joint swelling and damage related to rheumatoid arthritis. This person has had no hand surgery.

47-Year-Old Female With RA

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As with many of the images here, this image shows the swelling and joint deformity which is far too common in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is the best way to control the disease and prevent deformity. Pain and stiffness are also associated with rheumatoid arthritis of the hands and must be managed.

A Word From Verywell

Our hands are incredibly important in most everything we do, from holding things to touching things to grabbing things. We use our hands to cook, clean, groom ourselves, play with our children, write, create, and so much more.

Reviewing these images of arthritis is painful, but they are a visible reminder of how we must protect our hands if we have arthritis. Early and aggressive treatment of inflammatory arthritis can make a difference not only in pain and stiffness today, but in our ability to do what we love to do with our hands tomorrow.

If you are living with arthritis, talk to your rheumatologist aboutjoint protection techniques. Keep in mind that overuse (even without any pain) is associated with an increased risk of joint deformity.

Talk about the most appropriate treatment options to slow the progression of the disease and in turn reduce your risk of joint deformity. Ultrasound is one way to detect smoldering synovitis, otherwise known as “silent destruction” of joints.

Hand surgery can be helpful for some people, and when done appropriately, can improve quality of life. That said, it’s important that surgery is focused on improving function alone, rather than on cosmetic results.

Even with joint damage, many people are able to live very comfortable and productive lives. But being proactive and being your own advocate in getting the best care possible raises your chances of enjoying your future with as little pain and as much mobility as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the bones in the hand and wrist called?

    The hand has three different types of bones:

    (Video) CS: Arthritic Hand- MCP & PIP Pathology

    • Carpal bones are the eight bones in the wrist. Two are connected to the bones in the forearm, the radius and ulna.
    • Metacarpal bones are the five bones in the middle of the hand. They connect to the fingers and the wrist.
    • Phalanges are the 14 bones in your fingers and thumb.
  • What are the joints in the hand and wrist called?

    Joints are usually named for the bones they connect. Each finger has three joints:

    • The distal interphalangeal joint (DIP) is the joint closest to the fingertip.
    • The proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP) is the joint in the middle of the finger.
    • The metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP) is the joint at the base of the finger, where it meets the metacarpal bone.

    The thumb has two joints:

    • The interphalangeal joint is at the top of the thumb.
    • The metacarpophalangeal joint is at the base of the thumb.

    The base of the hand has five carpometacarpal joints, where the metacarpal bones meet the carpal bones.

    The wrist joints include:

    • Radiocarpal joint is at the base of the wrist where it meet the radius.
    • Ulnocarpal joint is where the wrist meets the ulna.
    • Distal radioulnar is where the radius and ulna meet
    • Scaphotrapeziotrapezoid joint is at the base of the thumb by the wrist.
  • What hand joints are affected by RA?

    The proximal interphalangeal (PIP) and metacarpophalangeal joints (MCP) of the hands and wrists are commonly affected by RA.

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3 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Anatomy of the hand.

  2. American Societyfor Surgery of the Hand. Joints.

  3. Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms.

Additional Reading

FAQs

What is best treatment for arthritis in hands? ›

Oral pain medications most frequently recommended to treat hand arthritis include acetaminophen and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

How can I stop arthritis getting worse in my hands? ›

A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
  1. Exercises — strengthening and stretching — to reduce symptoms and improve function. ...
  2. Hot and cold packs. ...
  3. Rest. ...
  4. Healthy eating and managing diabetes and cholesterol.
  5. Weight loss if you're overweight.
  6. Smoking cessation.
Jul 6, 2021

What does it look like when you have arthritis in your hands? ›

Swollen, red, or warm joints. Stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning in patients who have rheumatoid arthritis. Growth of lumps, or nodules, under the skin of the hands in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Fingers that look like “swollen sausages” in patients with psoriatic arthritis.

How do I overcome arthritis in my fingers? ›

Arthritic joints in the hands or wrists may be painful, stiff, and weaker than normal.
...
5 Simple Ways To Manage Hand Osteoarthritis
  1. Exercise your hands. ...
  2. Apply heat or cold. ...
  3. Make a few wardrobe changes. ...
  4. Consider topical pain medication. ...
  5. Try and anti-inflammatory diet.

What is the fastest way to cure arthritis? ›

Use hot and cold therapy

Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation. Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.

What drinks are good for arthritis? ›

Best Drinks for Arthritis
  • Tea. Tea is one of the most-studied drinks when it comes to its benefits for arthritis patients. ...
  • Coffee. Research shows coffee also has antioxidant polyphenols. ...
  • Milk. ...
  • Juices. ...
  • Smoothies. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Water.

Can hand arthritis go away? ›

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease. There is no cure, but healthy lifestyle habits and treatments can help manage your symptoms and keep you active. Non-Drug Treatments: Reducing strain on joints with a splint or brace, adapting hand movements, doing hand exercises or using hot or cold therapy can help to ease pain.

What triggers hand arthritis? ›

The exact cause of hand arthritis is unknown. The condition usually develops due to wear and tear of the joint, which occurs gradually over time. There's also a genetic component to hand OA. Family members may develop OA at a younger age than the general population, and may have more severe disease.

What can I soak my hands in for arthritis? ›

Many people with hand OA report that soaking their hands in warm water in the morning assists in decreasing the stiffness. Begin by filling a clean sink or large basin with warm (not hot) water. If swelling is also noted, add approximately ¼ cup of Epsom salt to the water to assist in decreasing the swelling.

Is Squeezing a ball good for arthritis? ›

Ball exercises

They help increase flexibility and improve strength. Such exercises include: Full grip: Perform this exercise a couple of times each week, with a few days of rest in-between. Squeeze a stress ball in the hand as hard as possible.

How do you stop arthritis from progressing? ›

Slowing Osteoarthritis Progression
  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Excess weight puts additional pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. ...
  2. Control Blood Sugar. ...
  3. Get Physical. ...
  4. Protect Joints. ...
  5. Choose a Healthy Lifestyle.

What are 5 symptoms of arthritis? ›

What are the symptoms of arthritis?
  • Pain.
  • Redness.
  • Stiffness.
  • Swelling.
  • Tenderness.
  • Warmth.
Apr 15, 2021

What is the number one medication for arthritis? ›

NSAIDs. NSAIDs are considered one of the most effective OTC drugs for pain stemming from osteoarthritis, which causes inflammation. These drugs reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling from arthritis. A common examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

Is Bananas good for arthritis? ›

Bananas and Plantains are high in magnesium and potassium that can increase bone density. Magnesium may also alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Which fruit is good for arthritis? ›

Berries are rich in antioxidants and the Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power.

Is honey good for arthritis? ›

Because honey and cinnamon have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, they may also be able to help people with arthritis.

Can you reverse arthritis in hands? ›

The joints most likely to be affected are those in your hands, wrists, and feet. Like other forms of arthritis, RA can't be reversed. Even if you show evidence of low inflammation and your joints aren't swollen and tender, your doctor may want you to continue taking some medication to avoid a flare of the disease.

What triggers hand arthritis? ›

The exact cause of hand arthritis is unknown. The condition usually develops due to wear and tear of the joint, which occurs gradually over time. There's also a genetic component to hand OA. Family members may develop OA at a younger age than the general population, and may have more severe disease.

What causes arthritis in hands to flare up? ›

The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain.

What is the most effective medication for arthritis? ›

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

NSAIDs are the most effective oral medicines for OA. They include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) naproxen (Aleve) and diclofenac (Voltaren, others). All work by blocking enzymes that cause pain and swelling.

How do you stop arthritis from progressing? ›

Slowing Osteoarthritis Progression
  1. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Excess weight puts additional pressure on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. ...
  2. Control Blood Sugar. ...
  3. Get Physical. ...
  4. Protect Joints. ...
  5. Choose a Healthy Lifestyle.

What can I soak my hands in for arthritis? ›

Many people with hand OA report that soaking their hands in warm water in the morning assists in decreasing the stiffness. Begin by filling a clean sink or large basin with warm (not hot) water. If swelling is also noted, add approximately ¼ cup of Epsom salt to the water to assist in decreasing the swelling.

Is turmeric good for arthritis in fingers? ›

Curcuminoids, the active compounds in turmeric, are sometimes used to decrease inflammation in arthritis. These potential anti-inflammatory effects could possibly help your skin, too. Turmeric may possibly be of benefit with inflammation related to skin diseases , such as psoriasis.

What are 5 symptoms of arthritis? ›

What are the symptoms of arthritis?
  • Pain.
  • Redness.
  • Stiffness.
  • Swelling.
  • Tenderness.
  • Warmth.
Apr 15, 2021

Why is arthritis pain worse at night? ›

Lying down can cause inflammatory chemicals to pool in the fluid that cushions your joints, which makes them stiffen up. And your perception of pain may be heightened during the nighttime because you're not distracted by anything else.

Is banana good for arthritis? ›

Bananas and Plantains are high in magnesium and potassium that can increase bone density. Magnesium may also alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Is heat or cold better for arthritis? ›

For an acute injury, such as a pulled muscle or injured tendon, the usual recommendation is to start by applying ice to reduce inflammation and dull pain. Once inflammation has gone down, heat can be used to ease stiffness. For a chronic pain condition, such as osteoarthritis, heat seems to work best.

Videos

1. Image of the Month April 2011: Rheumatoid Arthritis X-Ray
(AlbertaRheumatology)
2. Osteoarthritis Of The Fingers Heberden's Nodes - Everything You Need To Know - Dr. Nabil Ebraheim
(nabil ebraheim)
3. Treating Basal Thumb Joint Arthritis - Mayo Clinic
(Mayo Clinic)
4. Hand arthritis: what are the main symptoms?
(Dr Jean-Paul Brutus)
5. Rheumatoid Arthritis: 3 Common Hand Findings in 150 seconds
(Dr. Aman Arora - Arora Medical Education)
6. Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand - Everything You Need To Know - Dr. Nabil Ebraheim
(nabil ebraheim)

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