Symptomatic Hand Osteoarthritis in the United States: Prevalence and Functional Impairment Estimates from the Third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1991–1994

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Dillon CF, Hirsch R, Rasch EK, Gu Q: Symptomatic hand osteoarthritis in the United States: prevalence and functional impairment estimates from the third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1991–1994. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2007;86:12–21.Objective:To estimate the United States prevalence of symptomatic hand osteoarthritis using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) physical examination criteria.Design:The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a nationally representative cross-sectional health examination survey, performed upper-extremity physical examinations on a sample of United States adults age 60+ yrs. Data for demographics, pain history, analgesic use, and activity limitations were obtained by interview.Results:Among United States adults, 58% had Heberden’s nodes, 29.9% had Bouchard’s nodes, and 18.2% had first carpal–metacarpal deformities. Women had significantly more first carpal–metacarpal deformities (24.3%) than men (10.3%). Symptomatic osteoarthritis prevalence at these sites was 5.4, 4.7, and 1.9%, respectively. Overall, symptomatic hand osteoarthritis prevalence by ACR criteria was 8% (95% CI 6.5–9.5%), or 2.9 million persons. Symptomatic hand osteoarthritis significantly increased with age and was decreased among non-Hispanic blacks, but there were no gender differences. Symptomatic hand osteoarthritis was associated with self-reported difficulty lifting 10 lbs (OR 2.31; 95% CI 1.23–4.33), dressing (OR 3.77; 95% CI 1.99–7.13), and eating (OR 3.44; 95% CI 1.76–6.73). Frequent monthly use was significantly increased for analgesics, especially acetaminophen, but not nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs.Conclusion:Symptomatic hand osteoarthritis affects 1 in 12 older United States adults. NHANES III data provide a population-based assessment of the impact and associated functional impairments of symptomatic hand osteoarthritis.

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