Hand osteoarthritis (hand OA), the most common peripheral arthritis in the world, is less studied than osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee and hip. However, it is uniquely situated to offer novel insight into OA as a disease process by removing weight-bearing as a confounder of systemic disease mechanisms. Here we review the epidemiology of hand OA and key risk factors for its development.
Mounting evidence points to obesity as an important risk factor for hand OA development, with new evidence implicating a role for leptin and serum fatty acids. Disease progression in hand OA and specifically the erosive OA subtype may be associated with diabetes. New evidence supports an association between cardiovascular disease progression and symptomatic hand OA. Alcohol use may be associated with increased synovitis and erosive hand OA. Differences in ethnical distributions of hand OA have become more apparent, with a lower prevalence in Black patients compared to White patients. Novel genetic insights implicating the WNT gene pathway and IL-1β have led to novel potential targets in hand OA pathogenesis. Hand OA is a heterogeneous disease with many modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors that can determine disease severity and shed light on disease pathogenesis.