Hand osteoarthritis: clinical phenotypes, molecular mechanisms and disease management

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2018 Nov;14(11):641-656. doi: 10.1038/s41584-018-0095-4.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent condition, and the hand is the most commonly affected site. Patients with hand OA frequently report symptoms of pain, functional limitations and frustration in undertaking everyday activities. The condition presents clinically with changes to the bone, ligaments, cartilage and synovial tissue, which can be observed using radiography, ultrasonography or MRI. Hand OA is a heterogeneous disorder and is considered to be multifactorial in aetiology. This Review provides an overview of the epidemiology, presentation and burden of hand OA, including an update on hand OA imaging (including the development of novel techniques), disease mechanisms and management. In particular, areas for which new evidence has substantially changed the way we understand, consider and treat hand OA are highlighted. For example, genetic studies, clinical trials and careful prospective imaging studies from the past 5 years are beginning to provide insights into the pathogenesis of hand OA that might uncover new therapeutic targets in the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Management
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hand / diagnostic imaging
  • Hand / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / genetics
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents