Arthritis of the hand, wrist and elbow is a condition that affects the cartilage around the joints. Over time, the cartilage breaks down and causes inflammation, stiffness and pain. Wear-and-tear damage and age are the most common causes of arthritis.
When cartilage deteriorates, it no longer provides a cushion for the joints, and bones can eventually grind against each other. Arthritis can affect your ability to use or move the affected joints. It may also lead to joint deformity.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook
Symptoms of arthritis of the hand, wrist and elbow include:
Joint pain, stiffness, swelling and tenderness
Lower range of motion
To diagnose arthritis of the hand, wrist and elbow, a doctor will review your medical history and do a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may also order X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and blood tests.
Treatment for arthritis may include:
Exercise and physical or occupational therapy
Injections into the joint to help symptoms
Over-the-counter medications for pain
Prescription medications for pain
Wearing splints for the affected joint
Surgical treatments for arthritis may include:
Arthroscopy (minimally invasive surgery)
Usually, a doctor will recommend nonsurgical options first. Your doctor will work with you to determine the right treatment plan.
The nationally recognized orthopaedics team at Penn State Health provides patients with comprehensive care options for arthritis of the hand, wrist and elbow.
Why Choose Penn State Health for Care
Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report
Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopaedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.
Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute
Penn State Health orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. We focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies to produce the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional areas of orthopaedics and sports medicine.
National Hand Trauma Center Network Member
Penn State Health, Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Bone and Joint Institute have been recognized by the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American College of Surgeons as a member of the National Hand Trauma Center Network, a compilation of facilities in the U.S. whose physicians are able to provide 24/7/365 care for hand trauma emergencies.
Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research
The doctors and researchers in the Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing their field through scientific discovery and education. As the only locally based academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine.
Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.
We have an active clinical science research program and frequently seek volunteers to participate in clinical trials. These studies help our scientists improve diagnostic techniques, develop better treatments, and collaborate with other researchers.