Osteoarthritis of the hand, also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a condition which is caused by gradual breakdown of cartilage. It commonly affects the small joints of the fingers and the base of the thumb. Osteoarthritis is primarily caused by aging or normal wear and tear of the joints and can cause the joints to become swollen, stiff, and painful. When severe, it can interfere with normal hand functioning and significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Risk factors for osteoarthritis include advanced age, traumatic injury, high levels of activity, and genetic predisposition.
In severe osteoarthritis, the cartilage can wear very thin or become absent, often referred to as “bone on bone” arthritis. Rubbing of the bones can cause inflammation of the joint, as well as bony bumps on the edge of the joint which are called bone spurs (or osteophytes). Joint deformity may occur as the disease progresses.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the arthritis and the degree of symptoms. In the early stages, pain is generally well managed with anti-inflammatory medications, ice, bracing, and physical therapy. In more advanced cases, treatments include consideration for cortisone injections, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC) Therapy.