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Why are my hand swollen and stiff some mornings?

I am a 27 year old stay at home mother of 3. Some morning I wake up to hands that are swollen, stiff, and very painful. I have had this problem for sometime now, but it seems to be getting worse here lately. I haven't really tried anything for it. I don't know what to do for it because I don't know what is causing the problem. What could be causing this? What kind of doctor do I need to see for this kind of problem?
There are a number of conditions that could lead to stiff and swollen hands upon awakening in the morning. If you are experiencing this problem on a consistent basis, then you should certainly see a primary care physician and/or rheumatologist for further work-up and treatment. Morning stiffness and pain that tends to last more than 30 minutes in the morning is usually indicative of some form of inflammatory process that is involving the joints. One such process is called rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a form of inflammatory joint disease that often presents as the slow development of morning stiffness. Classically RA affects the joints that connect the hand to the fingers (the knuckles), the finger joints that are closest to the hand, and the wrists. The morning stiffness and pain tend to last 30-60 minutes or longer, but symptoms tend to get better throughout the day. Usually the same joints are affected on both sides of the body. Given the benefit of diagnosing and treating a number of joint problems early in their course, it is certainly advisable to visit your physician in the near future.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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