Erosive osteoarthritis is a sub-type of osteoarthritis and usually affects the joints in the hands and fingers. The condition often affects women during the stage of menopause which leads to the possibility that genetics and hormones might play a role in its progression.
What are the signs and symptoms?
At first, the symptoms of erosive osteoarthritis might be confused with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. The condition is mainly characterized by erosion of the cartilage in the hands. Middle-aged or post-menopausal women are typically affected. Always bear in mind that women are usually affected than males.
Erosive osteoarthritis can start abruptly with tenderness, pain and swelling. It affects both hands in the same joints simultaneously. The affected joints are usually rigid and stiff upon waking up in the morning for up to an hour. The episodes of joint inflammation and swelling often come and go, although they might be frequent.
The joints near the fingertips of the hand are typically involved. The joints near the knuckles are the next commonly affected joints. In some cases, the knuckles and larger joints might be affected as well.
Additionally, the feet are also a site for erosive osteoarthritis and might be the cause for toe and foot pain. Deformities of the hand can also occur as the disease progresses. These include subluxations, ankyloses and flexion contractures.
How erosive osteoarthritis is diagnosed
The medical history and physical exam are required in diagnosing erosive osteoarthritis. During diagnostic testing, there is a minor elevation in the sedimentation rate but generally, blood tests for inflammation shows a negative result.
The exact cause of erosive osteoarthritis is still unknown but metabolic disorders, hormones and auto-immunity are suspected. Remember that better understanding of the exact cause might provide better treatment options, but at the present, the treatment for the condition is aimed on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy and prednisone.
Hand deformities and impaired hand function are sure concerns with erosive osteoarthritis. The treatment must be periodically evaluated to reduce the damage. Remember that timely treatment is ideal and distinct from rheumatoid arthritis, the tenderness will subside. The affected joint might stay enlarged but it will not progress to rheumatoid arthritis.