The patterns and prevalence of hand osteoarthritis in a population of disabled older women: The Women's Health and Aging Study

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2000:8 Suppl A:S16-21. doi: 10.1053/joca.2000.0330.


Objective: To describe the prevalence of hand osteoarthritis (OA) by joint site, joint count and severity in a representative population of older disabled women.

Methods: 1,002 moderately to severely disabled women aged > or = 65 years were selected from a representative population of community-dwelling women. Hand OA was established using a reproducible algorithm based on self-reported pain, standardized physical examinations, hand photographs, and physician questionnaire responses. OA was categorized as either symptomatic disease, intermittently symptomatic/ asymptomatic disease, possible disease, or no disease.

Results: Symptomatic OA, requiring the presence of hand pain on most days for at least 1 month, occurred in approximately 23% of disabled older women in each age group, and most reported pain in the moderate to severe range. The prevalence of intermittently symptomatic/ asymptomatic OA was higher with increasing age. Finally, the most commonly affected hand OA sites were the distal interphalangeal (DIP) and the first carpometacarpal (CMC1) joint groups.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate the very high prevalence of clinical hand OA in disabled older women and show that a large proportion of hand OA results in substantial symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Hand Deformities, Acquired / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology