Erosive osteoarthritis, a less common subtype of osteoarthritis, is often described as a more severe form. This combination of cartilage degeneration with pathologic features suggestive of inflammatory synovial changes generally manifests in women around the time of menopause and hormonal levels as well as genetics are thought to play a role in its onset. The hands are most often involved with the sudden onset of palpable pain and swelling of the distal interphalangeal joints and proximal interphalangeal joints most frequently, but other joints have been reported. Phalangeal deformities appearing as wavy or subluxed as well as Heberden and Bouchard nodes can be seen clinically. Laboratory tests for systemic inflammation are usually normal but small studies looking at markers of bone resorption have shown increased levels in these patients. Radiographs reveal central joint erosions implying an inflammatory process which has been described in synovial specimens. Treatment options that have been tried include those utilized for general osteoarthritis as well as those for rheumatoid arthritis. Since prolonged disability in hand function can occur, further studies looking at its pathogenesis and targeted treatment options are needed.
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