They pour our coffee, brush our teeth and perform hundreds of other daily tasks too numerous to mention. “But aching hands transform even a simple task into a painful ordeal. Beneath the skin, your hands are an intricate architecture of tendons, joints, ligaments, nerves, and bones. Each of these structures is vulnerable to damage from illness or injury. Arthritis can make it difficult to carry a shopping bag,” according to Dr. Barry P Simmons, Medical Editor of Harvard Health Publications.
Harvard has issued a 44 page report entitled Hands. This Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, includes super-informed coverage of The Healthy Hand, Arthritis of the hand, Tendon trouble, Exercise for the hand, Carpal tunnel syndrome and other tunnel syndromes, traumatic hand and wrist injuries as well as handy gadgets. This pretty much qualifies as everything you ever wanted to know about the hand, but were afraid to ask. Harvard Medical School offers special reports on over 50 health topics. Visit their website for further reports of interest to you and your family. You can order the Hands report here.
The following is directly from the report:
The most common of all joint diseases, osteoarthritis affects cartilage, the resilient tissue that cushions the ends of your bones. Normally, cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface so the joints can move easily. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage thins and loses its elasticity. As the cartilage breaks down, the underlying bone may form a bony growth called a spur, or osteophyte. Fluid-filled cysts may form in the bone near the joint. The synovial membrane lining the joints becomes inflamed, triggering the release of proteins that may damage the cartilage further.
Approximately 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis. In addition to the hands, osteoarthritis typically strikes the knees, hips, feet, and back. The incidence rises with age, with most cases occurring in people older than 50. Heredity seems to play a role, particularly for osteoarthritis in the hands. Muscle weakness and a history of joint injuries caused by sports or accidents may also make a person more prone to a type of osteoarthritis known as traumatic arthritis. Ordinary, repetitive activities such as typing or playing a musical instrument may worsen arthritis symptoms, but they do not cause osteoarthritis of the hands.