Arthritis often causes permanent finger joint deformities.
Arthritis is a progressive disease that often causes breakdown of joints in the fingers. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types of arthritis that affect the fingers. These conditions sometimes cause bumps -- cysts and nodes -- to form on the back of the fingers.
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition caused by breakdown of cartilage, the smooth padding between the bones in a joint. The bones may eventually rub against each other, causing painful friction. The risk for osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, increases with advancing age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue, leading to chronic inflammation and pain. This type of arthritis can affect any joint in the body. Finger joints are frequently affected by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and women develop these conditions more often than men do.
Mucous cysts, also called ganglion cysts, often form above the last joint of fingers affected by osteoarthritis. They typically develop in people between 50 and 70 years old and are more common among women than men. These cysts are filled with fluid and usually develop over the last finger joint near the base of the fingernail. Mucous cysts are usually painless. Cysts that are painful or interferes with finger movement can be drained by a doctor, but they frequently return. If a cyst ruptures or becomes infected, surgical removal may be required.
Heberden nodes are hard growths that develop on the back of the joint at the ends of the fingers. They are associated with osteoarthritis in the last finger joint, although the cause of the nodes is not known. Heberden nodes are typically comprised of bone and cartilage, although they may also contain fluid. Inflammation, pain and redness may herald the development of a Heberden node. These symptoms eventually subside. However, the node persists, causing a permanent finger deformity in which the tip leans to one side.
Bouchard nodes are bony growths or cysts filled with a jelly-like substance. They develop on the back of the middle joints in the fingers and can occur with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The cause of the nodes is not known. Bouchard nodes are not typically painful, but can affect movement of the joint over time, causing difficulty with hand function. Heat and range of motion exercises are used to treat pain and movement restrictions that develop from Bouchard nodes, although there is no specific treatment available for the nodes themselves.