Osteoarthritis of the hand is a heterogeneous condition with complex differences in age, gender, ethnicity, symptoms and patterns of affected joints. The Osteoporosis Initiative described prevalence, incidence, progression, and variation Arthritis and rheumatism†
Among 3588 participants, the prevalence of radiographic OA was 41.4% and the prevalence of symptomatic manual OA was 12.4%. The incidence over 48 months was 5.6% for radial hand OA and 16.9% for asymptomatic hand OA. Within 48 months, 27.3% of participants made progress.
Complex differences were found based on age, gender, and ethnicity. It is recognized that, as expected, the prevalence of osteoarthritis of the hand increased with age in both men and women, but the incidence peaked in women aged 55–64 years. Women had higher rates of symptomatic arthritis of the hand, but only significantly higher incidences of radiographic hand OA than men. Furthermore, women were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the distal metacarpophalangeal joint, while men were more likely to have osteoarthritis of the metacarpophalangeal joint. Blacks had a lower rate of osteoarthritis of the hand than white participants. Black men were more likely to develop osteoporosis at a younger age than black women.
Further investigation is needed into the question of the mechanisms that underlie these differences, ie whether they are mechanical, metabolic, hormonal, or constitutional in nature.
Eaton CB, Schaefer LF, Duryea J, et al. Prevalence, incidence and progression of radiographic osteoarthritis of the hand and symptoms: the Osteoporosis Initiative. Rheumatoid arthritis. 2022; 74:992-1000.
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