The lifetime risk of symptomatic hand osteoarthritis is nearly 40%, researchers reported. The risk is higher in women than in men and varies with other factors.
Data from the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a population-based cohort of adults, were evaluated in the study, published online May 8 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Led by Jin Qin, Sc.D. of the CDC, the investigators had two goals: (1) estimate a person’s lifetime risk of symptomatic hand osteoarthritis and (2) stratify this risk by age, sex, race, education, obesity, occupational factors, history of hand injury, and other potentially influential factors.
“Our lifetime risk estimates of symptomatic hand OA, together with those previously ascertained for knee OA and hip OA, further illustrate the significant burden of symptomatic OA,” wrote Qin and colleagues.
Despite beliefs that osteoarthritis is a disease of older adults, hand osteoarthritis often presents during middle age. All of the symptoms—including stiffness, achiness, and decreased grip strength—can lead to impaired hand function and disability for performing daily life functions.
Only a few studies have examined the prevalence and incidence of hand osteoarthritis. Current estimates for adults from various countries who have hand osteoarthritis range from 3% to 8%. In the Framingham Osteoarthritis Study, the 9-year cumulative incidence of symptomatic osteoarthritis was 7%.
Lifetime risk has been estimated for cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. To date, the lifetime risk of symptomatic hand osteoarthritis has not been well reported.
This ongoing population-based prospective cohort study included African American and white adults age ≥ 45 years who were residents of townships in Johnston County, North Carolina. The parent study was designed to monitor the occurrence and natural history of osteoarthritis among residents. The cohort had 4 data collection time points, including baseline and 3 follow-up cycles. The present study represents data collected from 2218 adults during 2 follow-up cycles.
Radiographs were obtained during clinic visits by a standard protocol that involved bilateral posteroanterior views of the hands. A musculoskeletal radiologist reviewed the images using standard atlases for features of radiographic osteoarthritis at each of the 30 joints in both hands.
This research was supported by the CDC and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Qin, J., Barbour, K. E., Murphy, L. B., et al. “Lifetime Risk of Symptomatic Hand Osteoarthritis: The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project.” Arthritis Rheumatol. 2017;69:1204-1212. doi: 10.1002/art.40097. Epub 2017 May 8.