Swollen hands reflect inflammation in your hands. Inflammation is a medical condition that is characterized by extravasation of fluid content from your blood vessels. This fluid accumulates in the tissues of the hands causing them to swell. The inflamed hands can be painful or painless depending on the severity of inflammation. In moderate edema, pain is rarely a symptom.
However, when severe edema is present, pain is a major symptom. Inflammation in the hand can be at different categories. More often the small joint of your hands are affected. You may also notice some color change in the affected hand. In light skinned individuals, this change is more prominent. It may be red to pink. If it turns blue that is described as Raynaud’s phenomenon which is caused by less blood flowing to your digits.
Causes of swollen hands in the morning
Among the causes of swollen hands in the morning, rheumatoid arthritis is the major cause especially in young adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that mainly affects the small joints of either your hands or feet. It usually occurs when your body immune system reacts against your own cells.
Apart from causing joint inflammation and pain, rheumatoid arthritis also causes some problems in the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels. It mainly affects the lining of joints causing a painful inflammation. This can result into bone erosion and deformities at the joint level.
Bacterial infection almost always precedes this condition. The streptococcal group of bacteria is the most type of bacteria isolated when samples are cultured. In children, a throat infection is observed some two weeks before the onset of symptoms. The bacterial antigens released resemble the tissues of the joints and the heart hence there is effects both in the heart and the joints.
Another cause is osteoarthritis. This is a major cause in the elderly population. Osteoarthritis is a destruction of the joint components due to wear and tear. Wear and tear results from the extended use as you age. Bones, muscles and cartilage around the joints are involved.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a medical condition that is characterized by compression of the median nerve and associated structures as they pass though the wrist. Compression results in neurological defects of the function of the muscle of the hands. Neuropathic pain may results in this condition. The compression may also cause a reduced back flow of blood to the heart leading to edema and inflammatory pain.
Liver disease causes a decrease in proteins in the body. Proteins are essential to bind excess fluids in the body. If you have less protein in your body, you may lose water into the extracellular fluid compartment. This is caused by increased hydrostatic pressure in the vascular lumen. The kidney removes water from your body. If your kidney fails, you may accumulate more fluid in your body to cause edema in your hands.
Sometimes the resultant swelling may be due to sleeping positions. Some people have a tendency to sleeping over their arms. Extended episodes of these moments may reduce venous return leading to edema. When you sleep you should make sure that you don’t sleep on your hands. You can use pillows to reduce the impact on the hands.
You may feel pain or may not feel pain. However, your hands will be warm to touch of the swollen joints. The joints will also be still and the range of movements will be strongly reduced. Reduction in joint mobility is due to pain that you may feel as you try to flex or extend your joint.
You may also feel nodules under the skin. These nodules are referred to as rheumatoid nodules if they occur in rheumatoid arthritis. You may also feel general body weakness, fatigue, fever and weight loss. It should be noted that, these symptoms vary in severity from one individual to another. There are periods of increased disease activity known as flares that alternate with periods of remission.
Risk factors of swollen hands in the morning
Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men. Female gender is therefore prone compared to their male counterparts. Old age is a risk factor. As you grow old you become more predisposed. The peak age of this condition is between ages 40 to 60 years. if you also have a family member with this condition you are at a greater risk of getting it too.
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone marked by a decrease in bone mass. This complication of rheumatoid arthritis can also be produced by hormonal imbalances. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a cause or a complication of this condition too. Other serious manifestations include rheumatic heart disease and lung disease. Lung disease manifests as inflammation and fluid retention in the lungs leading to heavy lungs and difficulty in breathing.
Treatment of swollen hands in the morning
Medications are the mainstay of therapy. Different kind of pharmacological agents that are used include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs relieve both pain and the swelling. Steroids and other medications are used to reduce the reaction of the immune system to the harmless agents that normally trigger this condition. When joint complications develop you can have surgery to either correct or replace the joint.