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What Are Bouchard's Nodes?

Bouchard's Nodes Can Take Years to Develop


Updated May 13, 2014

Visible signs of osteoarthritis are an important aspect of diagnosis. Unlike other types of arthritis that may rely more on laboratory tests, there are characteristic signs of osteoarthritis.

Bouchard's Nodes Explained

Bouchard's nodes are a classic sign of hand osteoarthritis (the third most commonly affected joint following osteoarthritis of the knee and hip). Bouchard's nodes are bony enlargements of the middle joints of the fingers -- also known as the PIP joint or proximal interphalangeal joint.

Bouchard's nodes were named after a famous French pathologist, Charles-Joseph Bouchard, who studied arthritis patients in the 19th century.

Bouchard's nodes, like Heberden's nodes, may or may not be painful, but they are typically associated with limited motion of the affected joint. The nodes are strongly familial (i.e., inherited, genetic) and most researchers believe they are caused by osteophytes -- although some disagree. Bouchard's nodes are considered less common than Heberden's nodes.

The Significance of Bouchard's Nodes

It is the characteristic appearance of Bouchard's nodes and Heberden's nodes that are significantly helpful in diagnosing osteoarthritis.


Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes. Colin J. Alexander. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 1999;58:675-678.

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