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More Affected Joints Means Greater Hand OA Pain

Rheumatol Int; ePub 2017 Dec 22; Schaefer, et al

Individuals with hand osteoarthritis (OA) with more severely affected joints or a higher number of affected joints are more likely to report hand pain than their peers, a recent study found. Specifically, individuals with hand joints with Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) 3 or 4 have the greatest likelihood of hand pain. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional study with 3,604 participants from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI). Posteroanterior radiographs of the dominant hand were read using a modified KL scale. Hand OA at person level was defined as ≥2 finger joints with KL ≥grade 2. Researchers also explored more conservative definitions of hand OA as well as different sum scores and digit- and row-based scores. They found:

  • The majority of definitions of radiographic hand OA were statistically significantly associated with self-reported hand pain.
  • In the main analysis, persons with ≥2 finger joints with KL grade >2 were approximately 2 times more likely to self-report hand pain than persons without radiographic hand OA.
  • Increasing KL grades and increasing number of joints affected lead to stronger associations.
  • Almost all definitions of hand OA were related to pain.


Schaefer LE, McAlindon TE, Eaton CB, et al. The associations between radiographic hand osteoarthritis definitions and hand pain: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. [Published online ahead of print December 22, 2017]. Rheumatol Int. doi:10.1007/s00296-017-3913-0.

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