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What can it do?

Welcome to the beta Arthritis Virtual Assistant. At the moment it can give you general information about your condition and medication, and provide you with useful exercises to help manage your arthritis.

Why do we need your help?

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant has been built to learn and improve with every use. That way, whenever you use it, you’re indirectly helping another person get the answers that they need for their arthritis.

What can you ask?

You'll get the best response if your question relates to a single type of arthritis, and is expressed as clearly and simply as possible. For example, "What are the best exercises for osteoarthritis?" or "What are the side effects of methotrexate?"


Are you sure you want to close your conversation?

Your conversation will not be visible the next time you visit the Arthritis Virtual Assistant. If you want to keep a copy of the advice you've been given, you can print it using the button at the top of the chat window.

How would you rate your experience so far?


Arthritis Virtual Assistant

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant (AVA) allows you to ask questions and get answers about your condition and how best to manage it. It’s based on over 80 years of our research and uses artificial intelligence to decide on the best responses to give you. The AVA is currently in ‘beta’ testing which means it’s still learning and will improve as more people use it.

The AVA provides general information. For further info, or if you have any concerns you should speak to a healthcare professional.

The AVA is intended for UK users. Medical practice may differ in different regions, so please seek local advice instead of using the AVA if you are outside the UK.

By using the AVA you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of use and consent to how we will use the information you provide.

See full terms
Helpline 0800 5200 520 More information

Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
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Osteoarthritis of the hand

Osteoarthritis of the hands usually happens as part of nodal osteoarthritis (a form of osteoarthritis that runs in families). This mainly affects women and often starts in your 40s or 50s, around the menopause (the time when menstruation ends and it’s no longer possible to have children).

  • Osteoarthritis of the hands usually affects the base of your thumb and the joints at the ends of your fingers, although other finger joints can also be affected.
  • At times these joints become swollen and tender, especially when the condition first appears.
  • Over several years, firm knobbly swellings form on the finger joints. These are caused by osteophytes and are known as Heberden’s nodes when they’re at the end joints of your fingers or Bouchard’s nodes when they’re at the mid-finger joints. Once the nodes are fully formed, the pain and tenderness often improve.
  • Although the fingers are knobbly and sometimes slightly bent, they usually still work well. Arthritis at the base of your thumb may cause longer-lasting problems.

Having nodal osteoarthritis in middle age means you’re more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee, and possibly other joints, as you get older. Nodal osteoarthritis is especially likely to be passed from mother to daughter. It’s not yet known which genes are involved so it’s not possible to test for this.

OA of the hand with Heberden's nodes


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

Ask a question
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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.