Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Hands

Picture of rheumatoid arthritis in the hand

Hands and wrists are the most common location for deformities caused by rheumatoid arthritis. As joint damage progresses, the joints between the hand and fingers (metacarpophalangeal joints-MCPs) swell and move upward (dorsal subluxation). The tendons over the joints slip and cause the fingers to bend toward the little finger (ulnar drift). In addition, muscles in the hand thin and weaken, creating valleys between the long tendons.

Current as of: April 30, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Nancy Ann Shadick MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology

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