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"In the last year, I've developed intermittant pain in the joints of my hands. My doctor says it's not arthritis, but what is it?"

ZocdocAnswersIn the last year, I've developed intermittant pain in the joints of my hands. My doctor says it's not arthritis, but what is it?


I'm a 54 year-old woman, and about 8 or 10 months ago I started having pain in the joints of both hands. It started in the ring and pinky fingers, and sometimes the lower ring finger joints would 'lock up'. My doctor did a blood test for arthritis, which was negative, and put me on a seven-day steroid regimen, which relieved the problem. But now the pain is back--only this time it's in both middle fingers and extending down into my palms. Sometimes I have to use my other hand to straighten out my finger when it locks up. It's affecting my ability to hold on to things like cups and stair rails. If it's not arthritis, what's going on?


Your complaint is fairly common. There are many possible causes of this, of which arthritis is one. I would recommend that you see your doctor again and discuss this. There appears to have been some miscommunication and I believe another visit will help clarify this for you. Arthralgia is a term that describes pain of the joints. It sounds that you have arthralgia. Arthritis is a general term for inflammation of the joints. Arthritis often causes joint pain (Arthralgia). In terms of what causes arthritis there are many causes. When people say "arthritis" in common speak, they are most commonly referring to osteoarthrits. Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear in the joint that causes pain in the joints. This is common in women starting in the 50s. Many joints can be affected. In this condition, there is no inflammation throughout the body, but only in the joints. Therefore there is no blood test for osteoarthrits. X-rays can diagnose it. Rheumatoid arthritis is another cause of arthritis. This is caused by a floating protein in the blood, so a blood test can be measured for this. That being said, the blood test is often wrong. IT sounds like you do have arthritis. You may not have rheumatoid arthritis, but osteoarthritis is still a possibility. You should see your doctor for a further investigation. There are many treatments he or she could also prescribe.

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