Bouchard’s nodes are bony nodules, or osteophytes, that form on the middle joint of the fingers. They often result from osteoarthritis and can cause pain and rigidity in the finger.

Keep reading to learn more about Bouchard’s nodes, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

A person with Bouchard's nodes playing the piano.Share on Pinterest
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Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis that typically affects the weight-bearing joints. However, it can affect any joint in the body, including the hands.

When it affects the hands, it can cause nodes, or bony growths, to form on the middle joint of the fingers, also known as the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. These growths are Bouchard’s nodes.

Doctors generally associate them with more severe osteoarthritis.

Bouchard’s nodes form on the middle joint of the finger. The growths themselves are not generally painful, but they can affect how far the joint can move. In some cases, they can cause pain and inflammation.

This can happen if they are:

  • restricting movement
  • putting pressure on the nearby nerves
  • rubbing against tissue or bone

If Bouchard’s nodes form as a result of osteoarthritis, a person may also experience symptoms associated with osteoarthritis in the hands. These include:

  • swelling
  • pain that often occurs after sleeping, may come and go, and tends to worsen with use and improve with rest
  • stiffness, which can be more severe on waking
  • limited mobility
  • a feeling of weakness in the hand
  • a grinding or clicking noise in the hand

Bouchard’s nodes are a sign of osteoarthritis.

Although the cause of osteoarthritis is unclear, doctors consider it to be a sign of wear and tear in a joint. The cartilage of the joints breaks down, and as the joints become damaged, new bone develops around them.

Genetics may also play a role in the development of Bouchard’s nodes. According to an older 2012 study, females have a higher chance than males of developing nodes, which are more likely to affect the dominant hand.

Additionally, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) suggests that nodal osteoarthritis may run in families. Nodal osteoarthritis is a type of osteoarthritis characterized by knobbly finger swellings, such as Bouchard’s nodes.

A doctor can examine a person’s hands and look for the bony growth on the middle joint of the finger. They may also order imaging tests, such as:

The presence of these nodes can help a doctor rule out other forms of arthritis, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

Although both of these conditions can also cause growths, gout causes crystallized growths in the joint, and rheumatoid arthritis causes softer bumps on the fingers and thumbs.

A doctor can make a diagnosis of osteoarthritis after reviewing a person’s symptoms and looking at X-rays to check for cartilage damage.

However, they may sometimes order blood tests to check for rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies. They may also check for elevated blood uric acid levels, which could indicate gout.

There are no set treatments for Bouchard’s nodes, but the same basic therapies that can treat osteoarthritis of the hands may be effective.

Some common treatments and therapies include:

People who opt to perform strength exercises should take care to ensure that they do not put too much pressure on the hand and fingers.

In some cases, a person may require surgery to repair the joints.

A person may wish to contact a doctor if Bouchard’s nodes are causing pain and home remedies do not appear to be working. A doctor may be able to suggest additional treatments.

Below, we answer some common questions about Bouchard’s nodes.

Will Bouchard’s nodes go away without treatment?

There are no specific treatments for Bouchard’s nodes, and they will not go away without surgical treatment.

However, they are typically painless. If a person is experiencing pain, they should contact a doctor for further advice.

Can a person prevent Bouchard’s nodes?

It may not be possible to prevent Bouchard’s nodes from developing. However, a person can help minimize the symptoms by:

  • reaching or maintaining a moderate body mass index (BMI) to ease pressure on the joints
  • eating a low-inflammatory diet
  • exercising regularly

What is the difference between Bouchard’s nodes and Heberden’s nodes?

Heberden’s nodes are similar to Bouchard’s nodes, but they form at the joints in the fingers nearest to the tip.

Both are symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hands and result from wear and tear that damages the cartilage.

Bouchard’s nodes are a typical symptom of osteoarthritis of the hands. They are small bony growths that appear on the middle joint of the finger. They occur due to damage to the cartilage or joint.

The diagnosis typically involves a combination of a physical examination, diagnostic testing, and imaging tests.

The treatment focuses on treating the underlying arthritis. A person can speak with a doctor if they are finding it difficult to manage the symptoms and need help to regain or prevent loss of function.