Merck Manual

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Osteoarthritis of the Hand


David R. Steinberg

, MD, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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Osteoarthritis affecting the hand may include asymptomatic enlargement of nodules at the proximal interphalangeal joint (Bouchard nodes) or distal interphalangeal joint (Heberden nodes) or angulation at these joints. Pain and stiffness of these joints and the base of the thumb are also common. The wrist usually is spared (unless there was preexisting trauma), and there is usually minimal or no metacarpophalangeal joint involvement unless the patient also has a metabolic disorder (eg, hemochromatosis Hereditary Hemochromatosis Hereditary hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder characterized by excessive iron (Fe) accumulation that results in tissue damage. Manifestations can include systemic symptoms, liver disorders... read more Hereditary Hemochromatosis ).

Examples of Finger Nodes

Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Hand

  • Conservative measures

  • Occasionally corticosteroid injection or surgery

Treatment of osteoarthritis of the hand is symptomatic with analgesics, appropriate rest, splinting, and occasionally corticosteroid injection as needed.

Surgical procedures can help relieve pain and correct deformity for severe changes at the base of the thumb and, less commonly, for advanced degeneration of the interphalangeal joints.

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