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Tag: Arthritis


Common Causes of Stiff Hands

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Stiff hands can hit you all of a sudden. One minute you’re going about your day and the next, you’re wiggling your wrists in hopes of bringing life back into your fingers.

Certain serious medical conditions can definitely bring this on, but in other cases, your hands may feel stiff for no apparent reason.

Well, there most likely is a reason why your hands are stiff, and self-care may be your first line of treatment and prevention.

5 Common Causes of Stiff Hands

Stiffness in your fingers, thumb, and palm occur when there is a problem in a joint, including the ligaments and muscles.

One of the greatest culprits is arthritis, which isn’t a condition as much of a description of more than 100 types of ailments. Types of arthritis that may lead to stiff hands include:

Other medical conditions that can contribute to the sensation include:

Environmental factors and how you use your hands may lead to stiffness as well, such as gaming for too long or spending too much time outside in freezing temperatures.

Questions and Answers

Whether your hands become stiff temporarily for a few minutes or it’s an ongoing symptom, the reasons why this happens can be mysterious. When you see Dr. Arora, tell him about your symptoms in detail, and he will help identify the source of your problems.

In the meantime, here are some of the common questions we hear about hand and joint stiffness along with the basic answers.

Why do my hands get stiff in the morning?

One of the simplest answers is that you slept on them or leaned on them too much as you were sleeping. Avoid leaning on your wrists or tucking your hands under your head as you sleep. Using a brace at night may help you keep your wrists straight.

Otherwise, a common cause of stiff hands in the morning is worn joints or muscle tightness. This may be an indicator of arthritis, but not necessarily. Over the course of your life, your joints experience a lot of wear-and-tear; specifically, the cartilage in your joints dries out, stiffens, and loses lubrication.

This can lead to weaker muscles and stiff tendons, which may tighten even more as you sleep because you’re not moving. Lack of movement allows fluid to build up, which can stiffen tissues. When we move, bodily fluids move through the body more evenly, which can increase flexibility.

Simple lifestyle changes may help combat stiffness in your hands in the morning, including using proper mattresses and pillows, avoiding cold temperatures, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy diet. You also should get regular exercise that is ideal for your body’s needs, so talk with Dr. Arora about stretches and exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your hands.

Why are the symptoms bad at night?

Just like our eyes and legs, our hands get a lot of use during the day. For that reason, you may feel more stiffness, pain, or throbbing in your hands in the evenings. Resting your hands will help them recover from the everyday grind. That’s the simple answer.

Otherwise, if your hands get stiff while you sleep, it could be a sign of a more serious condition, so talk with Dr. Arora about your symptoms.

Why does cold weather make my fingers stiff?

Momentarily, that’s actually a good sign; it means your body is working as it should. Our fingers and toes are designed to protect the rest of our bodies. In the cold, our blood vessels constrict to keep the core of our bodies and our vital organs warm. That may leave our fingers and toes colder and stiffer.

If you keep that up too long, though, you may experience frostbite in your extremities, which can be very dangerous. Help your body stay warm in the cold by wearing gloves, thick socks, and boots, as well as hats that can cover your ears. If they become wet, change into dry clothing as soon as possible. If you are outside shoveling or playing in the snow, go indoors every 15 minutes or so to warm up.

How do you treat stiff hands?

Treatment for stiff hands will depend on its causes, but some home remedies may help.

  1. Ask our hand therapist, Lodia, about hand exercises that can help you stimulate your blood flow in the morning or relieve overuse symptoms in the evening.
  2. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve swelling that is causing stiffness in your hands. Talk with Dr. Arora to determine if this will help you. He may have specific medications that would be preferable in your case.
  3. You can use a brace while you sleep, while participating in hobbies, or at work if your job requires intense use of your hands.
  4. Gently stretch your hand muscles to loosen them. Ask Dr. Arora or Lodia about how to loosen up your hand muscles safely.
  5. Take a lukewarm shower or bath to relieve stiff joints. Avoid water that is too hot, as this can dry your skin, which could make your hands feel tighter.
  6. Use a warm compress or heating pad for only several minutes to relieve stiffness. Be sure to wrap the heating device in a towel before placing it on your skin to avoid burns or swelling.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step is to determine why you are experiencing stiff hands. Once the cause is identified, we can advise you on the best course of action, whether it’s simple self-care, hand therapy, medication, or the use of support devices. Surgery may be required in some more serious cases when other remedies do not help.

If your stiff hands are regularly causing you discomfort or you are concerned that this may be due to a serious medical condition, call us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Arora. We will help you identify the cause of your hand symptoms and devise a treatment plan that works for you.

Fingers General

Snap, Crackle, Pop: The Truth About Knuckle Cracking Your Parents Didn’t Want You to Know

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Straight to the point: Knuckle cracking is probably not as bad as they say, and that’s the general consensus among researchers as of today.

Yes, other people might still cringe and yell, “Stop doing that!” But the habit is probably not as detrimental to your joints and fingers as others would have you think. The rumors of the dangers of knuckle cracking are greatly exaggerated.

The possibilities that cracking your knuckles leads to arthritis and that it causes your joints to swell are most likely false myths, but there may be some truth to them. More research is needed, but as far as researchers have found at the present time, cracking your knuckles doesn’t signal the end of the world.

What Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles

To start with, many people may wonder: “Well, why do our knuckles crack anyway? What makes us feel the need to pop the joints?”

Basically, when you pop your knuckles, you’re popping a gas bubble. It’s similar to the sound of popping a balloon or bubble wrap.

When you stretch your joints, you release gas, and that gas forms a bubble in the lubricating synovial fluid between your joints. That bubble can then pop and collapse, either on its own or when you pop your joint intentionally.

That’s why you typically can’t crack a knuckle more than once. It takes about 20 minutes for that gas to return and form a bubble. (Bet you didn’t know that little fact, huh? We virtually saw the light go off in your head just now.)

In addition to causing arthritis, another myth is that knuckle cracking makes your knuckles larger. You know the one: “Don’t crack your knuckles, or you’ll never be able to wear a ring!” That hasn’t been found to be true either.

The Other Kind of Popping

The sound you hear when you intentionally crack your knuckles due to that bubble of gas is different than the popping you occasionally hear when you stand up from a seated position or crouch down to pick something up off the ground.

That popping, typically in your knees, ankles, or hips, may be the sound of tendons sliding between muscle or over the bones. That kind of sound could be related to osteoarthritis, which occurs when the lubrication between your joints begins to wear away, but it may happen in perfectly healthy joints as well.

Want to Hear More?

Bottom line: Although constantly cracking and popping your knuckles can annoy those around you, doing so is not that bad, and it has not been proven to lead to arthritis or create huge knuckles.

In fact, a Nobel-prize winning researcher, Donald Unger, made himself the subject of a case study in this regard. He popped the knuckles on one hand for 60 years, but not the other. In the end, he didn’t have any more arthritis in one hand than the other.

If your joints ache when they pop or you are concerned about your condition, however, you may wish to make an appointment to see Dr. Arora in West Bloomfield, Macomb, Warren, or Howell for an examination.

As for why you’re constantly cracking your knuckles as a nervous habit, well that’s a different discussion for another day.

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General Hands

Hand Arthritis Solutions: Tools, Equipment, and Tips for Completing Tasks Easier

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Simple tasks such as opening a condiment container, tying shoelaces, or even holding a phone can be challenging and frustrating for someone with hand arthritis. But there’s help. In addition to seeing our hand doctor for remedies, individuals who have arthritis can take advantage of tools and equipment that can help them complete daily tasks a little easier.

12 Tool and Equipment Modifications for Hand Arthritis

Following are a few modifications of common household items that can help make your life easier if you cope with the daily frustrations associated with hand arthritis.

1. Prescription bottles

If there is no chance that a child will get a hold of your container and there are no other potential dangers, you don’t have to use a childproof cap on your prescription medications. Ask your pharmacist to give you non-childproof caps.

2. Hands-free phone options

Rather than constantly holding a cellphone or struggling to tap on the keys, use talk-to-text, take advantage of the virtual assistants, and use headphones. You may even wish to invest in a household virtual assistant that will allow you to play music, make phone calls, and look up information without ever reaching for your phone at all.

3. Automatic toothpaste dispenser

Twisting open the cap of a tube of toothpaste and then squeezing toothpaste onto the toothbrush can be extremely challenging, or even impossible, if you have hand arthritis. A wall-mounted automatic toothpaste dispenser will do the work for you.


4. User-friendly lights

If you need lamps or night lights in your home, purchase touch lights. For a more significant home modification, consider installing motion sensing lights.

5. Automatic/electric openers

Automatic or electric openers for cans, jars, and wine are readily available at local grocery stores and home goods stores. They are available in multiple styles, such as one from Black & Decker that allows you to place the can in the center of the appliance and touch a button to have the appliance open the container for you.

Opening a can or jar can be difficult for someone with hand arthritis, but many electric or manual tools on the market can help.
Opening a can or jar can be difficult for someone with hand arthritis, but many electric or manual tools on the market can help.

6. Laundry pods

Tossing a pod into the wash is easier than lifting a container of liquid laundry detergent, twisting the cap, pouring the detergent into the cap, and then emptying the contents of the cap into the washer.

7. Handrails

Place handrails on both sides of a stairwell. Gripping a handrail can be challenging if you have arthritis in your hands, so having one on both sides can provide added support. You can take it a step further and install a stairlift, which is especially helpful if you also have arthritis in your back, hips, knees, or ankles.  Don’t forget to do the same for outdoor steps, or consider installing an outdoor ramp.

8. Lighter kitchen equipment

As your pots and pans wear away, replace them with lighter versions of themselves. Lighter pots and pans are easier to carry and maneuver.

9. Ergonomically designed kitchen tools

Kitchen equipment manufacturers understand the plight, so they offer several options for kitchen cookware that is easier for individuals with arthritis to use. Consider a rocker knife and utensils with larger grips, for example.

10. Seat belt handles

Fumbling for a seat belt can be awkward. The solution? Seat belt handles that reach out several inches, enabling you to buckle up with ease.


11. Button hook

The Good Grip Button Hook makes buttoning your clothes easier. Simply place the hook through a button hole, use the hook to grab for the button on the other side, and pull the button through. It may take some practice, but it’s easier than it looks.

12. Portable grabber tool

A portable grabber tools allows you to grip items you might need. Many have magnets on the ends as well and can be three feet long. Think of it as a combination of a trash pickup tool and a pair of tongs.

Using online apps can help someone with hand arthritis reduce the heavy lifting involved in grocery shopping.
Using online apps reduces the heavy lifting involved in grocery shopping.

Additional Tips for Living with Arthritis in the Hands

In addition to managing pain and avoiding injury, it’s important for people who have arthritis to conserve energy, helping to ensure that they can complete the tasks they need to complete later. Following are a few additional tips for conserving energy and moving with relative ease.

  • Keep items you commonly use, such as cookware and appliances, accessible and at counter level to avoid bending or reaching for them.
  • Pay attention to when and where arthritis pain might peak, and plan your day around it. For example, if hand arthritis is worse in the evening, consider prepping dinner earlier in the day.
  • Buy pre-chopped fruits and vegetables and pre-sliced bread.
  • Ask the butcher to cut and trim the meats for you.
  • Take advantage of grocery delivery apps to avoid the heavy lifting. (Keep in mind, however, that some appropriate exercises can improve arthritis symptoms, so don’t give up on physical activity.)
  • Use other parts of your body and other muscles when you can’t use your fingers or hands. For example, if you need to stir something, hold the utensil in a manner that allows you to comfortably use your shoulder or elbow to make the motions rather than your wrists, palms, or fingers.

For additional tips about living with hand arthritis, see Dr. Arora by making an appointment online or by calling (248) 220-7747.

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Conditions General

Early Signs of Arthritis

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Arthritis doesn’t describe a single disease; it actually describes a group of joint diseases. There are over 100 types, and many are characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints. Some types affect other parts of the body like the skin, eyes or even the heart.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type. The symptoms can vary depending on which joints are affected and on the severity of the disease. It most commonly affects the joints in the arms, legs, lower back and hips.

Pain, stiffness and tenderness are the earliest symptoms of osteoarthritis. In the early stages of the condition, the symptoms tend to be worse when the patient is physically active. They then fade when the patient rests. As the disease progresses, the symptoms persist even when the patient is resting.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

This is another common type, and it is caused by an autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the knees, elbows, hips, shoulders, hands and feet. In its early stages, it resembles other types of arthritis. Unfortunately, the disease’s most characteristic symptoms, like the formation of nodules or the erosion of joints, don’t develop until the disease is fairly advanced.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the smaller joints first, so patients will usually feel pain and stiffness in their hands before their shoulders are affected. Wrist joints are often among the first to be affected, so a patient has trouble bending their wrist backwards even during the early stages of the disease. The patient will also often feel tingling and numbness in their hands and/or fingers. Other early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include fatigue, weight loss and a low-grade fever.

Other Types of Arthritis

Some of the other types, as well as conditions that can be related to the disease, include:

  • Metacarpophalangeal joint
  • Thumb basal joint
  • Kienbock’s Disease
  • Psoriatic
  • Joint replacement surgery

Treatment Options

If you are dealing with this troubling condition, take a moment to get in touch with the team at Arora Hand Surgery. There are treatments available that can help to alleviate your symptoms. We have offices in West Bloomfield, Howell, Macomb, and Warren. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn about your treatment options.

Conditions General

Diagnosing Arthritis

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Diagnosing arthritis is not always a straightforward matter, for there are roughly 100 types. Our doctor will also want to rule out diseases that cause similar symptoms. Some unfortunate patients will even have more than one type, which further complicates matters.

What Will the Diagnosis Involve?

The first step involves taking a very detailed medical history. We will ask about the severity and duration of the symptoms. We will also ask about the patient’s family history and their health habits. We may also ask about the patient’s recreational or travel habits. Some contact sports, like soccer or basketball, involve quick turns that can lead to joint injuries. Similarly, we will also ask about the patient’s occupation and if it requires a lot of standing or repetitive motion.

After that will come a physical exam that will include a very detailed joint evaluation. Our doctor will make note of which joints appear swollen or otherwise abnormal. He will check the joints for range of motion and tenderness.

If our doctor can’t make a diagnosis based on the physical exam and medical history, he will probably order blood tests to look for antibodies or check the level of inflammation. He may also order imaging tests to get a better look at the affected joints. In most cases, he will order an X-ray, but he may order an MRI or ultrasound. Our doctor will look for cartilage loss, changes in the joint, inflammation, tears in soft tissues and other abnormalities.

What is Osteoarthritis?

This is the most common type of arthritis, and it is sometimes described as a “wear and tear” disease because it is generally caused by aging. As a person gets older, the cartilage at the ends of their bones starts to break down. There is, therefore, less cartilage to cushion the joints, and movement becomes painful.

Osteoarthritis can also be caused by obesity or joint injuries. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms associated with the condition include pain, stiffness, swollen joints and difficulty moving the affected joint. Unlike some other types, a patient with osteoarthritis does not feel ill or abnormally tired.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

This is another common type of arthritis, and it is an autoimmune system disorder. For reasons still unknown to scientists, the immune system attacks and damages the joints. The resultant symptoms of pain, swollen joints and stiffness may develop suddenly or gradually. The patient may also feel tired and have a reduced appetite.

What is Psoriatic Arthritis?

This type is linked to the disease psoriasis, which is also an autoimmune disorder. Psoriasis affects the skin, and most patients with psoriatic arthritis develop the skin symptoms first. Patients with this type of the condition generally develop it when they are between 30 and 50 years old. They usually develop swollen toes and fingers.

Treating Your Condition

If you have arthritis, make an appointment at Arora Hand Surgery to learn about your treatment options. We have offices in West Bloomfield, Warren, Howell, and Macomb. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

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Dr. Aroras office from my first call to schedule my appointment was friendly. Walking in the first day, I felt like I was in a nice atmosphere. Dr. Arora was EXCELLENT in taking great care of my hand injury. He was gentle and very understanding to the concerns I had about my hand. His expertise was admirable and I would recommend anyone with an injury to their hand to his office to be under his care. Because of him, I have healed faster than expected and will make an 100% recovery! Thank you Dr.

Jackie S.

I first thought I was going to have to have painful injections or surgery, but Dr. Arora suggested physical therapy may do the trick. I was doubtful, but I agreed to do it. Now, my pain is gone, and with the help of an ergonomic keyboard at work to keep my hands in the correct position, I am virtually pain free. The therapy strengthened my wrists and shoulders, and built more flexibility into my wrists.

Jerry T.

My experience with this doctor was positive from the outset. Dr. Arora was kind and spent a great deal of time with me. Staff was friendly. The office was nice and bright.

Ariel G.

Very friendly and helpful Great staff!!! Doctor Arora was very professional and did great work. I was very happy with everything!

L B.