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Carol Eustice

Hand Osteoarthritis Can Be Aggressive

By June 24, 2007

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Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, can affect multiple areas of the hand and wrist. At EULAR 2007 (the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology held in Barcelona, Spain from June 13-16), results were presented from a study which followed 172 patients with hand osteoarthritis for two years.

Pain and stiffness caused by hand osteoarthritis can affect daily activities which require grip and fine motor control. If left untreated, bones that form joints in the hand can lose normal shape causing increased pain, limited range of motion, and decreased function. Researchers recognize the importance of learning more about the progression of hand osteoarthritis and developing effective treatments which would prevent the progression. Current treatments for hand osteoarthritis include:

  • medications
  • injections
  • splinting
  • surgery

Though the follow-up study period was considered relatively short, patients with hand osteoarthritis showed significant increase in pain and functional limitations. X-rays, which revealed joint damage of the hands, worsened in 20 percent of the patients. Joint space narrowing and osteophytes (bone spurs) occurred more often in middle-aged patients and women, especially women who were in a stage referred to as "early post-menopausal". Hand deformity is commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis but hand osteoarthritis can be aggressive and cause problems too.

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