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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 enquiries@arthritisresearchuk.org


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