Lump on finger joint
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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One of the most searched terms on the Internet is “lump on finger joint.” This is obviously a problem that concerns many people. Well… there’s good news and bad news about this.
Most lumps on finger joints are benign. In people past the age of thirty, lumps appearing on the middle row and last row of finger joints are called Bouchard’s and Heberden’s nodes. These are bony swellings due to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. That’s the bad news. The good news is that while these lumps can be disturbing because of their presence as well as the fact they can be sore, these lumps usually do not cause crippling deformity. Occasionally, particularly in the Heberden’s nodes, a gelatinous material can be expressed from the swollen joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause lumpy finger joints but here the swelling is much more evident in the joint rather than on the joint and is accompanied by significant generalized morning stiffness all over as well as fatigue. Longstanding rheumatoid arthritis causes rheumatoid nodules on the fingers. These are collections of inflammatory cells and fibrous tissue.
Gout is another cause of lumps on the finger joints. These lumps are called “tophi” and consist of collections of monosodium urate crystals, inflammatory cells, and fibrous tissue.
People with elevated blood lipids can develop lumps on the finger joints due to the accumulation of cholesterol.
Plant thorn synovitis is a condition caused by the puncture of a rose thorn into the joint. This leads to infection in the joint and is an unusual but dangerous cause of lumps on the finger joint. This is considered a surgical emergency.
Rare diseases like histiocytosis can also cause lumps.
Rarely, malignancy can do this.
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