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 orthopedic 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
Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).
Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center
Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.
Confidence in Treatment Through Education
We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.
Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research
The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.
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.