A person putting a wedding ring on another person's hand that has an inflamed thumb

Psoriatic Arthritis in the Fingers and Thumb

Last updated: August 2023

We use our hands for everything! They are the lifeline of how we get things done. Doing dishes? Need your hands! Washing your body? Gotta rely on them too. Getting dressed? Making your bed? Driving? Typing an article! Our hands get us there.

My personal experience with painful hands began at the ripe old age of 25, I'm now in my 60s. I was told it was all in my head. Can you imagine? At such a young age, I struggled to pick up a fork to put food in my mouth. How could that be psychological?

What attached to our hands that we rely on even more? Our fingers and thumbs. When PsA presents in these tiny reliable joints, well, we can feel pretty impaired.

How does PsA impact the hands?

When psoriatic arthritis begins to present, it can wreak it's havoc and cause damage within months. PsA typically affects joints asymmetrically, which means it may develop in one hand and not the other. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and may progress, decrease, or remain the same for long periods of time.

It is common for PsA to affect smaller joints, such as those in the fingers. More often than not, the condition affects the joint closest to the nails. PsA affects everyone differently. Doctors are not sure what causes it or why some people with psoriasis develop joint problems where others do not.

However, it is likely that a combination of genetic and environmental factors plays a role.

Taking a look at my own fingers and thumbs!

I recently renewed my wedding vows. Before that, a nice self-care spa date was planned with my girls. A nice mani-pedi session was on the schedule. If you live with PsA too, you know that importance of a self-care day, especially one that takes care of our pitted and ridged nails.

My left-hand thumb had a blemish. The manicurist was concerned. It was swollen and painful, like the rest of my hands, nothing I wasn't used to. Even though I shared my diagnoses with her, she encouraged me to see my doctor about it.

I ended up not getting my nails done. It was too painful to continue.

Tips, tricks and everything in between!

I ended up seeing my doctor the next day. We did inflammation tests and examinations, proving the blemish and the swelling was caused by PsA. Topical treatment was prescribed, because the blemish was now infected. I've accepted that getting my nails done is off my list forever. I'll just continue to keep them nicely trimmed and clean.

If you struggle with painful hands, hot and cold therapies may help. Stretching and flexibility exercises may also improve your movement and pain. It is also important to look after the health of other joints in the body, even if they have not become affected by pain and swelling.

Don't hesitate for a second opinion. Painful hands doesn't have to be so challenging and impairing. Be kind to yourself and never stop advocating for your health.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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