Hand osteoarthritis in the elderly. Application of clinical criteria

Scand J Rheumatol. 1996;25(1):34-6. doi: 10.3109/03009749609082665.


The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) classification criteria were used to define the prevalence of clinical hand osteoarthritis (OA) in an elderly population in Iceland. The prevalence of hand OA was 3.3% for men and 6.8% for women, however, 19.6% of the men and 32.0% of the women fulfilled the ACR examination but lacked required symptoms. The prevalence of clinical signs of OA in the interphalangeal joints were similar for both sexes but were much more common in the first carpometacarpal joint of women (31.3% vs. 1.0% in men, p < 0.0001). No differences were observed between former seamen (55% of the men) and nonseamen or between the right and left hand. Intra- and interobserver agreement in diagnosis ranged from 83% to 97%, but only 70% of subjects fulfilling the symptoms criterion fulfilled the same criterion six months later. Our results suggest that the present symptoms criterion of the ACR clinical criteria restricts their use in population surveys, being both insensitive and unstable over time.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Rheumatology / methods
  • Sex Factors
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States