Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that involves the entire body. It differs from osteoarthritis in that both hands will usually be affected to the same degree and in a similar way. Also rheumatoid arthritis is often accompanied by fatigue, weight loss, rashes, and generalized joint stiffness. There also may be anemia, an elevated sedimentation rate, and a “rheumatoid factor” detectable in the blood. Synovial fluid surrounding the joint can be tested for inflammation and you may experience a high white blood cell count.
Radiographic examination will indicate bone weakening and soft-tissue swelling. As the disease progresses, x-ray films will show joint-space narrowing and cartilage destruction, similar to the changes seen with osteoarthritis.
For more information about rheumatoid arthritis of the hand and wrist, please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).