Introduction To investigate the association of radiographic finger osteoarthritis (OA), hand use, and lifestyle factors with incident and persistent finger joint pain among female dentists and teachers.
Methods Random samples of female dentists (n=295) and teachers (n=248) aged 45–63 years were examined for the presence of finger joint OA by radiography. Body weight was measured. Information on finger joint pain during the past 30 days, height, smoking, and leisure-time hand activity was collected by questionnaire. Five years later, 482 women (ie, 89%; 65% still occupationally active) responded to a survey on finger joint pain.
Results The incidence and persistence of finger joint pain were higher among the subjects with OA compared to those without. The RR of incident pain in the 1–3rd fingers was 1.8 (95% CI 1.2 to 2.7) in the right hand and 3.0 (2.0 to 4.6) in the left, allowing for age, occupation, and lifestyle factors. The corresponding figures for the 4–5th fingers were 2.3 (1.4 to 3.8) in the right and 1.9 (1.1 to 3.5) in the left hand. Regarding persistent pain, the RRs varied between 2.4 and 5.4. Body mass index, smoking, or leisure-time hand activity were not associated with pain. The dentists tended to have a higher incidence of pain in the 1–3rd fingers of the right hand than the teachers.
Conclusion Radiographic finger joint OA was a significant determinant of both persistent and incident finger joint pain in a 5-year follow-up among middle-aged women. Hand use may modify the association between radiographic OA and finger joint pain.
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