Osteoarthritis of the Hand
A very common early sign of osteoarthritis is a knobby bony deformity at the smallest joint of the end of the fingers. This is referred to as a Heberden's node, named after a very famous British doctor. The bony deformity is a result of the bone spurs from the osteoarthritis in that joint. Another common bony knob (node) occurs at the middle joint of the fingers in many patients with osteoarthritis and is called a Bouchard's node. Dr. Bouchard was a famous French doctor who also studied arthritis patients at the turn of the last century. The Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes may not be painful, but they are often associated with limitation of motion of the joint. The characteristic appearances of these finger nodes can be helpful in diagnosing osteoarthritis.
Quick GuideOsteoarthritis (OA): Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis
- Osteoarthritis is a joint inflammation that results from cartilage degeneration.
- Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
- The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint(s) after repetitive use. Other osteoarthritis symptoms and signs include
- There is no blood test for the diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
- The goal of treatment in osteoarthritis is to reduce joint pain and inflammation while improving and maintaining joint function.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that features the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between the bones of the joints. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. Osteoarthritis occurs more frequently as we age. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males. After 55 years of age, it occurs more frequently in females. In the United States, all races appear equally affected. A higher incidence of osteoarthritis exists in the Japanese population, while South-African blacks, East Indians, and Southern Chinese have lower rates. Osteoarthritis is abbreviated as OA or referred to as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD).
Osteoarthritis commonly affects the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. Osteoarthritis usually has no known cause and is referred to as primary osteoarthritis. When the cause of the osteoarthritis is known, the condition is referred to as secondary osteoarthritis.
What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic joint disorder of cartilage. It is not a systemic disease. It is not an autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, therefore, it features a misdirected immune system that attacks body tissues (particularly the joint lining tissue called synovium). Rheumatoid arthritis is also a systemic disease. Therefore, rheumatoid arthritis can attack tissues throughout the body beyond affected joints, including the lungs, eyes, and skin.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/24/2017