Osteoarthritis and Finger Length

Is your index finger shorter than your ring finger? According to a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, women with index fingers shorter than their ring fingers may be at greater risk for developing Osteoarthritis, especially in the knee.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. It is the most common form of arthritis and affects over 70 million American adults; this figure is expected to double by the year 2030 as the number of older adults increases. (Risk Factors, Healthcentral.com) There is a progressive loss of cartilage and it has been found to be caused by a combination of genetic factors and joint injury or wear and tear of the joint. People with Osteoarthritis suffer with stiff and painful joints that can sometimes worsen as they continue to use the joint during the day. Some of the risk factors that lead to this disease include: obesity, injuries, work and leisure activities that place ongoing strain on the joints, and a family history of arthritis.

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A Closer Look at the Results of the Study

Although the results of this study found this risk to be present in both women and men, the risk was almost double for women. Men’s ring fingers are more likely to be longer than the ring finger overall. Women normally have fingers closer in length. The study also looked at the risk toward arthritis in the hip, however, they did not find as close of a relationship between finger length and hip arthritis as they did with Osteoarthritis of the knee. Additionally, the smaller the ratio of 2D:4D, the greater the risk is to developing Osteoarthritis of the knee.

Previous studies of ring to index finger comparisons have shown that longer ring fingers are associated with higher prenatal testosterone levels, higher sperm counts and lower estrogen concentrations. This is the first study that examined the risk factor of finger length to Osteoarthritis.

Over 3000 people were participants of the study, 2,049 that had been previously diagnosed with Osteoarthritis of the knee and 1,123 that had never been diagnosed and showed no symptoms of joint disease.

The authors of the study accept that limitations prevent the results from being conclusive, however, the findings indicate some presence of a link between finger length and the risk of Osteoarthritis and warrant additional scientific studies.