Heberden's Nodes, Bouchard's Nodes

What Causes Heberden's Nodes?

Heberden's nodes can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'worrying' to 'serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose Heberden's nodes, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "Heberden's nodes" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Vitamin B6 Need
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
morning stiffness for 45-120 minutes
severe fatigue after slight exertion
occasional unexplained fevers
microcytic red cells
water retention before menstruation
low B6 levels
low lymphocyte count
brittle fingernails
long term neck stiffness
minor joint pain/swelling/stiffness
minor pain in cold/cool/damp weather
forgetting dreams
... and more than 20 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of Heberden's nodes:
Cause Probability Status
Vitamin B6 Need 96% Confirm
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 21% Unlikely
Rheumatoid Arthritis 3% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate joint problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Heberden's nodes or Bouchard's nodes. Do you have hard, bony swellings on your finger joints?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ One or two, but no deformation of the fingers
→ Several, but no deformation of the fingers
→ One or two, with deformation of the fingers
→ Several, with deformation of the fingers
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate Heberden's nodes, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers also experience swelling/bumps in the same joints that are affected by Heberden's nodes, but the bumps are not the same.

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