The struggle with arthritis is often an invisible one, but when arthritis bumps appear, that’s no longer the case.
Are you seeing these new bumps growing on your hands near your joints and wondering what you can do?
While there is no cure for arthritis, which is of course the culprit for the bumps, there are treatment options that can help manage them.
There are a couple of types of arthritis that are commonly known to cause these bumps – rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Let’s start by understanding the different make-ups of the bumps caused by each type.
Rheumatoid Nodules vs Osteoarthritis Nodes
Up to a quarter of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers will develop small nodules. The nodules range in size, often starting at the size of the pea.
Though they can become larger, with treatment many of them stay small or disappear altogether.
The nodules are generally not painful or harmful, but you may still wish to treat them.
Nodules caused by rheumatoid arthritis are made up of inflamed tissue. One type of treatment that has had a positive effect for some is disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, specifically rituximab.
Steroids shots directly into the nodule and surgery are also treatment options. With surgery, it’s important to understand that there is a high chance that the nodule will reappear. You’ll only want to opt for surgical removal if the nodule becomes infected or prevents movement from the joint.
The other disease responsible for arthritis bumps on the hands is osteoarthritis.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, the nodes from osteoarthritis are actually bony growths.
As the cartilage that supports your joints disappears, the bones begin to rub and can result in new bone being created. This new bone growth can extend outside of the joint causing bumps on your hands, among other places.
When the bumps are connected to the top joint in your finger they are called Heberden’s nodes, and when they occur at the middle joint they are called Bouchard’s nodes.
The rest of this article will focus on nodes caused by osteoarthritis as the bumps are larger, more painful, and more difficult to treat.
What Are the Symptoms?The symptoms will vary from person to person, but a few of the regularly reported symptoms associated with the nodes are:
- Loss of Motion
Ultimately, the symptoms caused by nodes are similar to the symptoms you’re likely already experiencing with osteoarthritis but can be exacerbated by the bony growths.
Who Is Most Likely to Get Them?
While anyone with osteoarthritis can experience the bony growths on their joints, there are some factors that can put you more at risk.
Risk will multiply with each factor that fits you, with most of them sadly being outside of your control.
AgeJust as the risk to develop arthritis becomes more prominent with age, so does developing the nodes caused by it.
The nodes from osteoarthritis are more likely to form as the disease has had more time to progress as well.
GeneticsUnfortunately, there is a genetic link to the nodes. Meaning if someone else in your family has developed them, you are more likely to.
While osteoarthritis itself isn’t inherently hereditary, certain conditions that lead to increased risk for the disease may be.
GenderWomen are 10 times more likely to develop the nodes caused by osteoarthritis than men.
Women’s bone density can be negatively impacted by menopause, as well as their weight which is another risk factor.
ObesityYour weight doesn’t play as much of a factor in developing nodules on your hands, but it can cause you to develop modules on other weight-bearing joints like your knees.
These nodules are often not clearly visible, but they can cause the same pain and other symptoms as the bumps on your hands do.
What Are the Treatment Options for Arthritis Bumps?
There is no real “cure” for nodes caused by osteoarthritis, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.
MedicationNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, both over-the-counter and prescription, are popular treatment choices for helping with pain associated with arthritis bumps.
You don’t want to become reliant on medications due to additional risks that come with overuse, so you want to have an alternative form of relief to accompany any medication.
Ice and/or HeatWhen your osteoarthritis is causing your joints in your hand to swell, putting more pressure on the bony nodes, you may find that applying ice or heat will provide you relief.
Do not apply heat or ice longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and never fall when using either.
You may also find that alternating heat and ice is beneficial. Start by applying heat and then applying ice several hours later.
RestSince the bony growths occur as a result of your bones rubbing together without the cartilage to cushion them, resting your joints can help prevent excessive impact.
You don’t want to let arthritis get you down, but it’s important to know your limits and understand when taking a rest will help you do more in the future.
Splints or BracesAgain, the more your joints rub, the more likely you are to develop nodes on your joints.
By using a splint or a brace on your hand, you are providing additional support to your fragile hand joints.
During long periods of activity, or during any task that is more demanding on your joints, this could help manage your symptoms.
SurgerySurgery is often the last course of action chosen for treating bumps caused by osteoarthritis.
If surgery is chosen, the bony growth will either be removed or the joint may be fused.
Be aware that removing the growth may only be a temporary fix, as over time it could regrow. The risks associated with surgical treatment are not worth it many times due to this.
ConclusionArthritis bumps may be caused by either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, but the makeup of the bumps is very different.
The nodules that may form due to rheumatoid arthritis are smaller and come with treatment options that can shrink them without surgery.
The bony nodes caused by osteoarthritis are though more complex, and more difficult to treat.
More often than not, the treatment for the growths is focused on managing symptoms rather than removal.
If your nodes are significantly restricting your joint’s range of motion or causing severe pain, you’ll want to consult your physician for the best course of action.
2 years ago, I had a red “bump” on the distal phalanx of my left index finger that I thought was a ganglion cyst (I’ve had several, before.) It burst and drained jelly like synovial fluid and then just went away. 2 months ago it returned and I have noticed another on my left ring finger, same spot, and I’m getting more on other fingers, too. RA, maybe? Not sure…
Found this article most helpful.
Now feel I know what I am dealing with.
Old age really is a treat is it not.
I have OA with both types off Nodes.I was recently diagnosed with OA everywhere in my body and in my hands ‘Erosive OA’.I have already had bi-lateral thumb surgery. Left was 10yrs ago,that was good until last yr.The Right one which is my dominant hand has always still been painful. I wonder if that surgery can be repeated ? My little finger on my right hand began to swell one yr ago with a jelly like lump on the inside of the joint.The mid joint on that finger is now so swollen I cannot use it,it is extremely painfull and I keep catching it which is VERY painful.Is there anything I can have done ?