Hand arthritis is typically diagnosed with x-rays. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. This is caused by wear-and-tear, genetics, injuries, and it is often a normal part of the aging process. An arthritic joint will show decreased space between the bones as the cartilage thins, bone spurs or calcium deposits on the edges of the joint, small cysts within the bone, and sometimes deformity of the joint. “Osteophyte” is another name for a bone spur. This can cause the finger to look larger at the joints and crooked. View the x-ray below to answer the question: what does hand arthritis look like on x-rays?
The first image is a normal hand for comparison
The x-ray below shows common findings in osteoarthritis of the hand. Compare this to the normal hand x-ray above. The joints closest to the fingertip (DIP joints) and the joint at the base of the thumb (thumb CMC joint) are the most common joints in the hand affected by osteoarthritis. Bumps at the joint closest to the fingertip are also called Heberden’s nodes.
Raleigh Hand to Shoulder Center doctors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of hand conditions including osteoarthritis of the hand. They are members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
How is hand arthritis treated? Hand arthritis can be treated with oral and topical anti-inflammatory medications, range of motion exercises, hand therapy, splints, steroid injections, and surgery. Joint replacement and joint fusion surgeries are options and will be discussed by your hand surgeon. A common surgery is thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthroplasty for severe pain at the base of the thumb. This thumb surgery can significantly decrease hand pain, improve hand function, and improve the quality of life for most patients.
John M. Erickson, M.D. is a native of El Paso, TX. He graduated from Baylor University in 2000 and received his Doctorate in Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas in 2004. He completed an orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan Hospitals in Ann Arbor. In 2010, Dr. Erickson completed a fellowship in hand and upper extremity surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN.