When osteoarthritis affects your hands, bony knobs called nodes may develop on your joints, giving your fingers and thumbs a gnarled appearance. Nodes that appear on the joint closest to your fingernail are known as Heberden's nodes; those that appear on the middle joint are called Bouchard's nodes.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually begin slowly and may be mild at first. The pain is usually worse after a lot of activity or during movement after long periods of inactivity. You may feel discomfort in the joint before or during a change in the weather. You may also have swelling and loss of flexibility in the joint. Over time, the cartilage that serves as a cushion between the bones may completely wear away, causing the bones to rub against each other. This can cause the bone ends to thicken and form bony growths or spurs. In the fingers these bony lumps are called Bouchard's or Heberden's nodes.
In some cases, surgery may be required in order to correct or prevent joint deformity, relieve pain and improve movement.