Chirurgische Praxis Alstertal Heegbarg 14 22391 Hamburg Tel: +49 (0) 40 602 30 06

Osteoarthritis Finger – Joint degeneration Finger – Heberden Arthritis – Bouchard Arthritis

Here we provide some useful information about common Osteoarthrosis/Arthritis Finger

Hand surgery and Surgery practice Alstertal Germany Hamburg Heegbarg 14 22391 Hamburg Handsurgeon Dr. Stefan Peters



Preliminary note: Here  the “normal” osteoarthritis will be discussed. Rheumatic Osteoarthritis differs  in many ways from the “normal” arthritis. Rheumatic changes are explicitly not a topic in the following text.

Due to decades of use the articular cartilage shrinks. When Cartilage disappears,  bone to bone rubs. The joints appearance is thickened, range of motion is reduced, discomfort may occur. Usually, this is not a pathological process, but “normal” after decades of living. Hereditary inclination favors that occurrence.


Typical appearance of “Heberden” Osteoarthritis at the distal interphalangeal joint










Emergence and progression of osteoarthritis can neither influenced by medication nor by diet or other factors. The Finger osteoarthritis should considered as fateful.

Are the distal interphalangeaal  joints affected, the physicians speaks of “Heberden” Osteoarthritis, at the proximal interphalangeal joints its called “Bouchard” osteoarthritis.


Most people with Heberden and Bouchard Osteoarthritis need no help. The changes in the finger joints are considered as a nuisance, but the quality of life is not reduced.

Occasionally by some individuals joints become strong painfully affected by osteoarthritis, or the finger shape changes massively, so medical intervention is appropriate.

Conservative treatment  may reduce the pain through medication or Physiotherapy, also short time immobilization may help. However, as a rule, this is not a permanent solution. The progression of arthritic changes can not be influenced by any kind of medication. X Ray treatment is an established form of therapy. The author is rather critical about this method, because through Radiation irreversible tissue changes occur.

Operative treatment can be done at the distal interphalangeal  joint by Arthrodesis or joint cleaning. Joint replacement is not established yet.

At the proximal interphalangeal joints under certain conditions joint replacement is successful established. However, in most cases an arthrodesis in a functional position will be recommended.

Again, the indication for surgical treatment has to be done with caution, The physician should be well experienced in hand surgery.  Often Patients decide after extensive discussing the options for living with the Arthritic changes without operative intervention.

It must be admitted, that there is no ideal treatment for the finger osteoarthritis to date.

operating room

In local anesthesia (also innovative “WALANT” technique possible) Arthrodesis of the distal interphalangeal joint or joint cleaning. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.

The proximal interphalangeal joint replacement is not performed in our institution, we cooperate with a hospital.

what’s next

After Arthrodesis, mostly cast immobilization for app. 4-6 weeks is necessary.

After joint replacement physiotherapy for 2-3 months

After joint cleaning immobilization for less than 10 days.

Disclaimer Info Pages

 Dear Patient, this page is made to inform you and provides essential information about medical issues.

We have published this page in good faith and based on our years of experience and  latest scientific findings.

Of course, a guarantee for  correctness and completeness can not be given in the rapidly-developing field of medicine. Even other doctors may disagree. 

However, we are convinced: You will be informed  useful and responsible. Nevertheless, we encourage you to gather information  also from different sources.


  • Dr. med. Stefan Peters
    Trauma Surgery
    General Surgeon

    Dr. med. Stephan Berg
    General Surgeon
    Trauma Surgery

  • Hours of Service

    8:30–11:30 + 16:00–17:30
    8:30–11:30 + 16:00–17:30
    8:30–11:30 + 16:00–17:30

    fresh accidents
    (the same day):

    Monday to Friday 8:00–18:00 clock

    … and by appointment.