When osteoarthritis affects your hands, bony knobs called nodes may develop on your joints, giving your fingers and thumbs a gnarled appearance.
The affected finger and thumb joints may feel painful or stiff at first, although the pain usually subsides within time. For some people, the pain is gone in as early as a few months, and for others it make take a couple of years. However, the bony knobs will remain.
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.
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