Bouchard's Nodes Causes and Treatments

Bony Joint Nodules Seen With Hand Osteoarthritis

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Bouchard's nodes are bony enlargements of the middle joints of the fingers, also known as proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints. These are the finger joints closest to the knuckles.

The nodes are a classic sign of osteoarthritis, or joint degeneration, of the hand. They were named after the French pathologist Charles-Joseph Bouchard who studied people with arthritis in the 19th century.

Bouchard's nodes are less common than Heberden's nodes, which are bony enlargements of the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints closest to the fingertips.

An elderly woman with arthritic hands.

Camille Tokerud Photography Inc. / Getty Images

This article looks at the symptoms and causes of Bouchard's nodes and explains how the condition is diagnosed and treated.

Bouchard's Node Symptoms

Bouchard's nodes, like Heberden's nodes, may or may not be painful. However, they will typically affect the extent to which a joint can move or its range of motion.

Over time, this accumulation of excess bone tissue can cause bones to misalign and become crooked. The fingers can also become swollen.

As the joint stiffens, a person's grip can weaken, making it difficult to do daily tasks like opening a jar, using a can opener, or even turning a car key.

Bouchard's nodes are not inherently painful, but will likely increase any pain that occurs with movement.


Genetics has a probable role in the development of Bouchard's nodes, as they are commonly seen in families. Also, women are more likely to be affected than men.

With that being said, the prime cause of Bouchard's nodes is the same as any other manifestation of osteoarthritis: the long-term wear and tear of joint tissues.

Osteoarthritis most often affects the joints of the hands, knees, hips, lower back, and neck. With this very common condition, the tissues that normally cushion the joint space are worn away. Joint damage and inflammation can lead to excessive remodeling of bone tissue. Ossification, this part of this process responsible for bone formation, can cause nodules to form. Those affecting the PIP joint are called Bouchard's nodes.


A Bouchard's node is considered a characteristic sign of osteoarthritis, helping differentiate it from other types of arthritis such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

With that said, there are also bumps associated with rheumatoid arthritis and gout. People with rheumatoid arthritis may develop rubbery bumps on the thumb and knuckles called rheumatoid nodules. People with gout may develop crystallized lumps in the joint space called tophi.

Since there are no blood tests to diagnose osteoarthritis, your doctor may perform other tests to rule out rheumatoid arthritis and gout as causes.

These include:

  • Blood tests to check for rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies, which are seen in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood uric acid, which is elevated with gout
  • Uric acid crystals in joint fluid, which is associated with gout

A complete blood count (CBC) can be used to measure the white blood cell count (WBC). Because osteoarthritis is not associated with chronic inflammation, WBCs will usually be normal or near-normal, whereas it is often elevated with gout or rheumatoid arthritis, which are inflammatory.

Imaging tests, such as an X-ray to check for joint cartilage loss, can also help confirm the diagnosis.


The treatment for Bouchard's nodes is similar to the treatment approach for hand osteoarthritis without nodes.

This includes:

  • Resting the joint
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Pain relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aleve (naproxen) or Advil (ibuprofen)
  • Topical capsaicin cream, lidocaine, or NSAIDs (like Voltaren gel) for minor aches and pain
  • Injections of steroids into the joint for severe cases

Joint immobilization may also be used during acute flare-ups to minimize joint movement.

Therapy may be needed to improve joint mobility and prevent disability:

  • Physical therapy can help improve hand movement.
  • Occupational therapy can help improve your ability to perform certain activities of daily living.

Surgery is rarely used for treating Bouchard's nodes—mainly for cosmetic reasons.


Bouchard's nodes are bony overgrowths of the middle joints of the fingers. They are caused by osteoarthritis. They occur when the loss of joint cartilage and inflammation cause excessive bone formation. Bouchard's nodes may or may not contribute to pain, but typically cause joint stiffness, grip weakness, and misaligned, crooked fingers in severe cases.

The diagnosis involves lab and imaging tests that help differentiate osteoarthritis from similar conditions like gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Bouchard's nodes can be treated with rest, ice or heat therapy, pain relievers, or steroid injections if there is pain. Hand therapy can help prevent disability and increase joint mobility.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are Bouchard's nodes?

    Bouchard's nodes are bony overgrowths, also called bone spurs, in the joints in the middle of the finger. They're caused by wear and tear of bone rubbing against bone from osteoarthritis in the hand.

  • What's the difference between Heberden's nodes and Bouchard's nodes?

    Heberden's nodes are bony enlargements in the joints closest to your fingernails. Bouchard's nodes are bony enlargements in the middle joints, closer to your hand.

  • Can you get rid of Bouchard's nodes?

    Not completely. You can treat related pain with rest, pain relievers, and heat and ice therapy. The bump itself won't go away unless you have surgery to remove it, but surgical removal is not the usual form of treatment.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Arthritis Foundation. When hand or wrist pain may mean arthritis.

  2. Rees F, Doherty S, Hui M, et al. Distribution of finger nodes and their association with underlying radiographic features of osteoarthritis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2012;64(4):533-8. doi:10.1002/acr.21586

  3. Merck Manual. Osteoarthritis of the hand. Updated May 2020.

  4. Zhang Y, Jordan JM. Epidemiology of osteoarthritisClin Geriatr Med. 2010;26(3):355–369. doi:10.1016/j.cger.2010.03.001

  5. Arthritis Foundation. What is osteoarthritis?

  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Rheumatoid arthritis. Updated August 2020.

  7. Arthritis Foundation. Osteoarthritis of the hand.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Is there any help for hard, painful bumps on your fingers from osteoarthritis? Updated April 2, 2019.

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer who covers arthritis and chronic illness. She is the author of "The Everything Health Guide to Arthritis."