Aggressive nature of hand osteoarthritis

June 14, 2007

In just two years, patients with hand osteoarthritis (OA) experienced a significant increase in pain and functional limitations, according to new data presented today at EULAR 2007, the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona, Spain. Statistically significant radiological progression was also detected in 20% of subjects.

OA is the most common form of arthritis. It generally affects older people, especially women and can occur in multiple areas of the hand and wrist, causing pain and stiffness and affecting everyday activities requiring fine motor control and hand grip e.g. writing. Over time, if left untreated, the bones that make up the joint can lose their normal shape, causing further pain and limited motion. However, knowledge about the progression of hand OA and effective therapies to prevent its progression has been lacking.

Led by Dr Stella Botha-Scheepers of Leiden University, The Netherlands, this study followed 172 patients (mean age 60.5 years, 78.5% women) with hand OA (defined by the American College of Rheumatology criteria) for two years, assessing: pain intensity upon lateral pressure in the DIP, IP, PIP and CMC 1 joints on a four-point scale; self-reported hand pain and functional limitations with subscales of the Australian/Canadian Osteoarthritis Hand Index (AUSCAN LK 3.0); and osteophytes and joint space narrowing in the right and left DIP joints, IP joints of the thumbs, PIP joints and CMC 1 joints through standardized radiographs.

Despite a relatively short follow-up period of two years, statistically significant increases in pain intensity on lateral pressure standard response mean (SRM) 0.67), AUSCAN pain scores (SRM 0.25) and AUSCAN function scores (SRM 0.23) occurred. Statistically significant radiological progression was also seen in 20% of patients, in terms of joint space narrowing (SRM 0.34) and osteophytes (SRM 0.35), with progression of osteophytes occurring more often in women and middle-aged patients, and especially in women in an early post-menopausal stage.

Dr Botha-Scheepers commented: “The findings of this study underline the critical need for early, effective intervention in hand OA to prevent irreversible progression, given the dramatic deterioration of clinical and radiological disease status seen in just two years.”

Hand OA tends to appear in a predictable pattern, most commonly affecting the small joints of the fingers and the joint at the base of the thumb. It can be diagnosed by medical examination and X-rays of the hand. Treatment options for arthritis of the hand and wrist include oral medication, injections, splinting and surgery.

Source: European League Against Rheumatism

Explore further: Portable, rapid DNA test can detect Ebola and other pathogens

Related Stories

Portable, rapid DNA test can detect Ebola and other pathogens

September 28, 2015

Using technical advances not yet developed when the 2014 Ebola outbreak began, UC San Francisco-led scientists completed a proof-of-principle study on a real-time blood test based on DNA sequencing that can be used to rapidly ...

Vibration pen is designed for people with Parkinson's

April 1, 2015

A woman appears in a video about a very special pen, the ARC, specifically designed for people with Parkinson's living with micrographia. Diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013, the woman says that, over time, her writing changed. ...

Study sheds light on aromatase inhibitor joint pain syndrome

November 8, 2010

Breast cancer patients are more likely to have joint pain from taking aromatase inhibitors (AIs) if they have advanced stage cancer, according to a study presented at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting, ...

MIT researches cause of pain in spacesuit gloves

October 13, 2010

All spacesuit gloves stiffen and fill with gas during an astronaut spacewalk, also known as extravehicular activity, or EVA. This pressure production is required to keep astronauts alive in space, and current spacesuits provide ...

Is your cellphone a source of pain?

October 5, 2009

Jill Garonzik Kelley of Allen, Texas, is thankful for unlimited minutes on her cellphone. After all, she did rack up 4,500 last month. What the 41-year-old advertising strategist is not as happy about is the pain after a ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.