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Wear and Tear Arthritis of the Hands & Small Joints

Updated: Apr 1

Osteoarthritis of the hands and the small joints (wear & tear arthritis)

Often called the ‘Wear and Tear’ arthritis, Osteoarthritis most often affects the hands, hips, neck, lower back and knees. In fact we don’t yet fully understand all the possible causes of osteoarthritis but at some point we can be sure that some type of stress and susceptibility causes a breakdown in the tissues of the joint. We see a deterioration of the cartilage (the connective tissue where two bones meet to form a joint), gradual damage to the bone, including the surrounding tendons and ligaments, as well as the meniscus (fibrous cartilage which partly divides a joint cavity) in the knee.

My area of interest is particularly in those who suffer from damage to the small joints of the hands so I will limit this information to that alone. This is a close-up look at the main remedies in the rubric ‘Hands, arthritic, nosodities’. (A rubric is a small section in our homeopathic repertory which focuses on and shows, the most often indicated remedies for a particular symptom). I want to examine this because the bony swellings we see on the small joints of the hands can be both extremely painful and can lead to embarrassment. It is good to know that homeopathy can help to address these issues.


Osteoarthritis of the Hand usually affects three places: the joints closest to your fingertips, the middle joints of a finger and the base of the thumb where it meets the wrist. Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, muscle weakness, a feeling of instability, bone spurs (osteophytes) and other changes in bone growth. In general, the shape of the finger joints can change gradually over time with bony enlargements.

Why do symptoms appear?

Overuse can be a cause of osteoarthritis from repetitive movements of a joint but most often when hands are affected we see a family history of osteoarthritis. Women tend to be more susceptible to osteoarthritis than men and often it appears in later life post-menopause. It can also occur in younger people after injury or if there is a genetic abnormality.

How can homeopathy help?

There are many remedies which will help with pain and support you to protect your joints helping you to feel better. I will briefly run through some of the keynotes from the eight most often indicated homeopathic remedies for bony swellings of the small joints of the hands. Home prescribing may have it’s place here if you are suffering a painful episode or flare up but please bear in mind that you will benefit most from the advice of a professional homeopath in a full consultation.



Physical: Puffy / shiny swelling of the joints, drops things readily, burning / stinging pains, numbness of fingertips & hands, trembling of hands.

Mental & Emotional: Restlessness, Anxiety, Hard to please.

Modalities: Better - Cool air, Cold applications, Motion.

Worse – afternoon, heat in any form, touch, pressure, right side, after sleep, from suppressed eruptions.


Physical: Gouty symptoms, joints crack on motion, nodes very painful, tearing / stitching pain.

Mental & Emotional: Anxiety & depression, dwells on past disagreeable occurrences.

Modalities: Better – Heat, profuse urination (hot, dark urine with excess of uric acid).

Worse – in open air (chilly), uncovering, change of weather, motion.


Physical: Bony nodosities deform the joints, hands numb when grasping, little mobility in fingers, sweaty, flabby chapped hands, joints crack and crepitate as if dry.

Mental & Emotional: Overworked & exhausted, worries about responsibilities / duties, apprehensive, forgetful, nightmares & poor sleep.

Modalities: Better – Heat, patient seeks warmth, dry climate, fresh air, rubbing, sweating.

Worse –Cold weather, after exposure to wet, weakness climbing stairs (often overweight).


Physical: Weakness, loss of muscular strength, paralytic feeling in right hand, unsteadiness in muscles, numbness, trembling, contracted tendons, burning / dull / tearing pain.

Mental & Emotional: Timid, nervous, anxious, over sympathetic, melancholic, despondent, hopeless, suspicious, grief / feels betrayed, cannot tolerate injustice.

Modalities: Better – Cold drinks, damp wet weather, washing, warmth of bed, gentle motion.

Worse –Exposure to cold dry air, clear fine weather, extremes of temperature, change in weather, 3am to 4am, exertion, taking hold of anything, suppressed eruptions, coffee, fats, sour foods.,


Physical: Paralysis or sensation of paralysis, burning feeling, cramps, jerking, stiffness & contraction, hands hot or cold.

Mental & Emotional: Obstinate, moody, sluggish, much better for weeping, anxiety particularly on waking, indifference.

Modalities: Better – In the dark, from wrapping up warmly, walking in the open air, hot drinks – esp milk, eating and touch.

Worse – Heat of the bed, getting wet feet, motion, night, around menses, light, eating fats, hot drinks (notice the contradictions in modalities here)


Physical: Affected parts are cold, lack of body heat, pains shoot through the small joints, rheumatic matter in the tissues, gouty pains and nosodities, cracking joints, purple appearance of joints, symptoms ascend, hands tremble on moving and grasping.

Mental & Emotional: Confusion, absentmindedness, tendency towards anger, wants to be alone, takes fright easily, moaning.

Modalities: Better – Ice cold applications, cold air, cold, resting.

Worse – Evening into night, heat of the bed, heat from a fire or covers, motion, wine.


Physical: Paralytic stiffness, violent sharp pains, excess of uric acid, gout with pains in the joints through shoulder to arms, fingers and smallest joints, nodular swellings, tenderness, itching about the joints, soreness of the fingers, recurring acute inflammation of small joints.

Mental & Emotional: OCD, concentration difficult, timid, depressed, restlessness, forgetfulness and lack of confidence whilst talking – omits words, oversensitive and irritable, wants to be alone, claustrophobic.

Modalities: Better – Alone, joint pain relieved by very hot water, grasping.

Worse – Being spoken to, touch.


Physical: Gradually developing ailments, stiffness of all joints, pains come and go, limbs go to sleep / numbness, drawing & tearing pains, chalky deposits in joints, jerks & twitches, emaciation of one hand.

Mental & Emotional: Indecision, loss of confidence, low self esteem, weak memory, severe anxiety / panic attacks, melancholy, domineering, irritable, easy to anger, reproaches others.

Modalities: Better – Motion, discharges, warm food & drink, being uncovered, cold applications.

Worse – Right side, warm rooms, warm applications, pressure of clothes, wet, windy or stormy weather, 4-8pm.


In the repertory list of remedies (known as a rubric) the above eight remedies are indicated as the most often used for bony arthritic nosodities of the hands. Here are the other remedies in that rubric. You may want to research these for yourself. The remedies in bold italics are more often indicated than the non-highlighted remedies : actea, aesc, agn, ant-c, calc-f, calc-p, carbo-an, carbn-s, clem, colch, dig, hep, ox-ac, plumbum, ran-s, rhod, sil, staph, sulph & Urt-u.

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