In this week's Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday we spoke with Dr. Michael Potter, a hand surgeon at Sentara Martha Jefferson Orthopedics, about one of the most common problems he sees: arthritis of the hand.

“For the vast majority of people we’re dealing with a condition called osteoarthritis which is just a wear and tear disease,” said Dr. Potter. “It’s something that happens as folks get a little older in life that bone and joints start to wear out with attrition.” 

Typically, symptoms occur in older adults.

“Pain is the most common symptom and it’s typically localized to whatever joint is becoming arthritic. As the disease becomes more advanced, often the joint will get stiff. It also takes longer to get going, or warmed up and get moving in the morning, but pain and stiffness are by far the most common symptoms,” said Potter.

Treatment options vary as the disease changes. “In the early stages of the disease, it may be helpful for folks to just get x-rays and know what’s going on and understand their disease and how to manage it,” Potter explained.

As the disease advances, medications like Tylenol, Advil, or even prescription medications may be used. Then, doctors say more aggressive actions may be needed. “When those simple options are no longer effective, then things like steroid shots or surgery can be possibilities for relief.”

Sentara Orthopedics is now seeing patients at their Crozet location, in addition to their current locations at Pantops and 29 North.

For more information on this topic, or to make an appointment with Dr. Potter, please call 1-800-SENTARA. 

If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com