When hands ache at night time because of arthritis pain, it is difficult to get a good night's sleep. Instead of floating off to a dream state, feelings of agitation, annoyance and a desire for relief and a quick remedy are all too consuming. Two types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can create night time pains in the hands that might be disrupting a good night's sleep.
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Night Pain in the Base of the Thumb
During the day, common activities such as turning a lid, using silverware, turning keys, gardening, writing and typing might not be cause for concern. However, these activities can cause joint inflammation with onset of pain at night. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, "Severity can also progress to pain at rest and pain at night. In more severe cases, progressive destruction and mal-alignment of the joint occurs, and a bump develops at the base of the thumb as the metacarpal moves out of the saddle joint."
Night Pain in Multiple Hand Joints
If the hand pain occurs in several areas of the hand, rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Classic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include swollen or tender joints. At the beginning stages of rheumatoid arthritis, the pain is intermittent and relieved by resting the hands. However, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that, "As the disease progresses, the pain becomes more constant, even occurring at rest. The character of the pain changes from a dull ache to sharp, sometimes radiating pain. Generally, the pain is worse when the barometric pressure falls."
Hand Pain that Prevents Sleep
Nighttime hand pain from arthritis prevents people from sleeping. Even if arthritis patients fall asleep, there are times when hand pain wakes them. Although the hands are not engaged in physical activity, the inflamed joints lead to pain and anxiety. According to Karen Cooksey, "About one-third of people who have pain while trying to sleep [live with] arthritis pain." Ms. Cooksey goes on to quote a study from a recent poll: "According to the "Sleep in America" poll, 72 percent of older Americans diagnosed with osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis experience problems sleeping."
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.