We're using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you're agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more

Did my nodal osteoarthritis disappear overnight?

Q) I'm over 80 and developed arthritis in my hands in my 50s. I had the pain for eight years, then one night I went to bed with severe pain in my hands and woke up the next morning to find it had gone! I had exercised the hands regularly. I've read that nodal arthritis in middle age can clear up like this. My hands are now pretty good; just some pain in the thumbs. I develop some lovely bony lumps now and then which don't hurt. I keep exercising them and some have disappeared. Is this unusual? I keep hoping my lower back pain, which I have had for many years, will improve too.
Elizabeth, Berkshire (Autumn 2011)

A) This is usually what happens to nodal osteoarthritis: there's a painful period, which can last from months to years, that leaves the joints knobbly but not tender or painful at all. I doubt that the same will happen with your back pain, although older people do have less back pain.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Autumn 2011 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to

Keep up to date with the latest from Arthritis TodaySign up today.


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

We're now

Versus Arthritis.

You're being taken through to our new website in order to finish your donation.

Thank you for your generosity.

For more information, go to
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.