Heberden's Nodes

Heberden's Nodes: Overview

When osteoarthritis affects your hands, bony knobs called nodes may develop on your joints, giving your fingers and thumbs a gnarled appearance.

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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.

Causes and Development

Heberden's nodes and Bouchard's nodes usually take years to develop, although they can sometimes appear within a period of weeks or months.

Signs and Symptoms

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.

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Heberden's Nodes:

Heberden's Nodes suggests the following may be present:



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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Recommendations for Heberden's Nodes:

Invasive / Surgery


In some cases, surgery may be required in order to correct or prevent joint deformity, relieve pain and improve movement.


Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Where Heberden's nodes is affecting the index finger, doses of B6 at 100-150mg per day may not work unless you eat one handful of raw pecans a day (i.e. you need both) says one Dr. Goodheart.  Nodes may not go away but pain and mobility may be much better over several weeks.

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