The More Common Hand Diseases
Hand diseases are, for the most part not terribly common, fortunate indeed for those who use their hands a lot, which includes most all of us. Some hand problems we have can accurately be called hand diseases, others fit better under the category of hand disorders, and still other problems are in a sort of grey area between the two.
The most common hand diseases we experience are usually associated with either the skin or with the joints in the fingers or wrist. Hand diseases centered in the tendons are also among the more common diseases encountered. Some of what we think of as hand diseases are actually symptoms of a more general systemic disease, such as diabetes or a vascular condition.
Osteoarthritis is one of the more commonly encountered hand diseases, and is the result of wear and tear on joints. Osteoarthritis can attack any joint in the body, but is most often encountered in the limbs or extremities, particularly the hands. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in the joints, the cartilage being a slippery tissue covering and protecting the ends of the bones where they meet at the joint. As the disease progresses, the bones eventually come into contact, rubbing together, often causing considerable pain. A deformity in the hand, especially in the fingers can result. Injuries and age both contribute to an onset of osteoarthritis.
Tendinitis is a disease which usually affects the wrist, seldom the fingers, although since tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon, any tendon could conceivably be affected. An athlete however, would be more apt to suffer from tendinitis of the elbow or wrist, than of the fingers. Repeated use of a joint and the associated tendons, together with injury are common causes of tendinitis. Unlike osteoarthritis, tendinitis is usually easily treatable and reversible.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is yet another hand disease, often the result of repetitive motions by the hand and wrist. A tell-tale sign is the wearing of a soft cast or splint, looking somewhat like an open-fingered glove, around the hand and wrist. The carpal tunnel is a small passageway at the base of the hand, containing nerves, muscles, and tendons. When irritated by something such as repetitive motion, these tissues may swell, causing a painful condition, and the attempt to grasp objects may become difficult. Resting the hand in a splint, or surgery, are the usual treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be caused by rheumatoid arthritis, which can affect other parts of the hand as well.
Diseases Of The Skin - Some hand diseases are skin diseases which just happen to affect the hands, though there are some types which are most often found on both the hands and feet. Contact dermatitis is usually the cause, although a skin disease such as eczema can be present on the hands, especially on the backs of the hands. A disease called palmoplanar pruritus sometime occurs on the hands, the symptom being one of itchy palms. Skin conditions affecting the hands are sometimes incurable, but generally treatable. The use of moisturizers is the most common method of relieving symptoms of itchy hands or of managing the disease. Dry skin often contributes to the flare up of a certain skin condition, as can an allergen. We handle many things with our hands, and certain chemicals can initiate skin disorders, in effect causing hand diseases.
Treatment - Most hand diseases you may experience will be treatable and curable, others, while not curable, can be controlled and at times the symptoms can even be reversed. Chronic itching and dry skin can often be managed by over the counter lotions, and other medications can lessen pain which may be due to an onset of arthritis or tendinitis. Chronic or severe hand pain should of course be brought to the attention of a care provider.