Ar­thro­sis of thumb and fin­ger joints

Arthrosis of thumb and finger joints
Arthrosis of thumb and finger joints

Although arthrosis can be formed in all joints of hand and fingers, the thumb-saddle joint between carpus and first metacarpal bone (Rizarthrosis) as well as the finger-end joints (Heberden Arthrosis) are most often affected. Arthrosis of finger-middle joints (Bouchard Arthrosis) and arthrosis of the wrist joint are not so common. Anti-inflammatory painkillers, injections, electro therapy and other treatment options may alleviate the symptoms.

Symptoms of arthrosis of thumb and finger joints

Signs might include:

  • Pain when moving affected joint
  • Stiff joint in the morning
  • Rizarthrosis: pain particularly at the junction from thumb to wrist
  • Heberden Arthrosis: formation of bicuspid protrusions (Heberden's nodes) at the finger-end joints
  • Bouchard Arthrosis: pain and visible swelling of the affected middle joints

Causes and origin of arthrosis of thumb and finger joints
  • Degenerative changes that are common with aging
  • Misload for many years (e.g. due to sports, computer and handicraft work)
  • Fractures close to joints that have healed improperly
  • Injuries of extensor tendons

Post-menopausal women suffer more often from arthrosis of the finger joints than men. Hormone-related factors could be possible causes, as well as hereditary predisposition.

Consequences of arthrosis of thumb and finger joints

Without treatment, the disease progresses and cartilage damage increases. Painful deformations and stiffness in the joints develop, and eventually the affected person cannot move the joint anymore.

Prevention and therapy of arthrosis of thumb and finger joints

Nonsurgical therapy

At the beginning of the therapy, the doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory painkillers or an injection in the affected area. If the patient suffers from Rizarthrosis (arthrosis of thumb-saddle joint), a special thumb or wrist splint may relieve and immobilize the joint as well as reduce the pain.  Another option is Orthokin therapy, a biological treatment method with hyaluronic acid. In addition, the physician often prescribes hot, cold, electro therapy or physiotherapy.

Arthrosis of thumb and finger joints is more common in elderly people
Arthrosis of thumb and finger joints is more common in elderly people


If conservative treatment isn’t successful, surgery might be an option. The procedure depends on the affected joint and on the extent of cartilage damage. The surgeon may, for example, interrupt the pain-conducting nerve tracts or remove bony extractions.

Preventive measures

The causes of the arthrosis of the finger joints are usually not known, and the disease cannot be cured. But the symptoms may be alleviated with therapy. In addition, the patient should avoid anything that might do harm to the joints, e.g. repetitive strain on joints. It’s also recommendable to eat healthy: Certain nutrients may protect the joints and minimize or delay arthritic symptoms, e.g. vitamins C and D, glucosamine, boron, chondroitin sulfate, MSM. Moreover, dehydration might be a major underlying factor in degeneration and pain. Don't drink cola, coffee, and tea instead of good quality water!