Osteoarthritis is a disorder categorised by wear and tear of joints that leads to loss of cartilage and flexible tissue that cushions the bones in the joints. Osteoarthritis can lead to pain, swelling, joint stiffness, loss of function and flexibility. Erosive osteoarthritis is a type of inflammatory osteoarthritis that develops in the hinge joints of the fingers and at times in the toes. Studies reveal that less than 3% of people suffer from erosive osteoarthritis and around 10% of people with symptomatic osteoarthritis develop this inflammatory joint problem over a period.
Erosive Osteoarthritis

Erosive osteoarthritis can cause:

Hardening of the bone near the cartilage

Narrowing of the space in between bones

Destruction of some bone matter

Also Read: Osteoarthritis not age-related, can affect young adults too

Symptoms Of Erosive Osteoarthritis

Signs and symptoms of erosive osteoarthritis appear suddenly. In most cases, symptoms usually show without any warning and the symptoms majorly affect the fingers that include:

Sudden onset of pain


Warmth in the joint


Tingling in the fingertips

Limited movement of the hand and it becomes very hard to hold objects.

Joint functions changes usually develop in the proximal joints (middle of the finger) of the fingers, rather than the distal joints (near the fingertips).

Morning stiffness that lasts up to an hour.


Researchers believe that hormonal imbalance may be the cause of erosive osteoarthritis, as women are commonly affected than men and another likelihood is due to an autoimmune problem.

Risk Factors

Erosive osteoarthritis most often affects women post-menopause, as doctors consider that loss of oestrogen hormone plays a crucial role in women. A family history of erosive osteoarthritis may also increase a person risk.


Painful and swollen fingers are some of the symptoms of erosive osteoarthritis that are very similar to rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, thus erosive osteoarthritis is at times misdiagnosed initially. The healthcare provider will thoroughly examine the patient and review symptoms, personal and family medical histories. Certain imaging tests are suggested to confirm the diagnosis.

X-rays are a key procedure in the diagnosis of erosive OA, as they can show any specific changes to the bone that are characteristics of erosive OA when compared with regular OA or inflammatory arthritis.

Ultrasound and MRI may also be beneficial at observing soft tissue changes, such as inflammation in the joint, as well as other aspects of bone erosion.

Also Read: Arthritis Management - It's in your hands - take action

Erosive Osteoarthritis Treatment

There is no complete cure for erosive osteoarthritis, as it is a progressive condition that cannot be reversed. The main goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms and maintain joint function. Most of the treatment options of erosive osteoarthritis are the same as standard OA treatments.

NSAIDS And Analgesics

Over- the counter and prescription pain relievers are usually the first-line treatment modes for erosive osteoarthritis.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen can help reduce the inflammation associated with the condition.

Analgesics are very potent pain relievers that are particularly beneficial for people who cannot take NSAIDs.

Steroid injections are prescribed by the doctor to lower inflammation and pain, they are effective in temporarily alleviating symptoms in larger joints including the knee and shoulder.

Occupational Therapy

With erosive osteoarthritis finger and hand, function become damaged and even basic activities like eating, buttoning a shirt can become hard. An occupational therapist can teach patients to modify ways to carry out regular tasks on their own with the assistance of special tools or devices. The patient should also do certain exercises to strengthen affected joints and improve their function.

Heat Therapy

The use of hot compresses is a core of arthritis treatment that helps to open the blood vessels to supply more oxygen and nutrients to the tissue of the joints, thereby eases stiffness and alleviates pain. Thus, heat therapy is an effective complementary therapy to oral medications and other treatments.