Symptoms and Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and symptoms of osteoarthritis.

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Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC, discusses diagnosis and symptoms of osteoarthritis.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. John Watterson, MD, FRCPC

Duration: 1 minute, 37 seconds

Osteoarthritis of the hands is a form of degenerative arthritis.  

It's very common in populations; in particular, aging populations, a disorder of degenerative arthritis affecting the end joints and the middle joints of the hands and the base of the thumbs. The diagnosis is based upon clinical symptoms, generally pain, stiffness, and loss of dexterity in the hands.  

A physician will make the diagnosis clinically or may ask for certain blood tests or X-rays. The blood tests are generally normal, as it is not a systemic disease. It's only affecting joints. And X-rays are very characteristic. 

The treatment of osteoarthritis is based upon symptoms. We don't know of anything that's disease - modifying for osteoarthritis, so really, we're treating symptoms.

Many individuals will not have symptoms. Others will have quite severe symptoms. And the treatment for those individuals varies from simple over-the-counter analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents to prescription-strength anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Before starting off medications, you should consult your general practitioner to make sure there are no contraindications to you utilizing over-the-counter or prescription-strength analgesic or anti-inflammatory drugs.

In individuals with significant degenerative arthritis at the base of the thumbs, there are some surgical and splinting interventions which can also help improve both symptoms and hand function.  

If you think you have symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hands, it is important to seek medical attention, as there is treatment available for this disorder. 

Find out more about hip pain, surgery and treatment.

Presenter: Dr. John Watterson, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.