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Ask Dr Miriam.

Byline: DR MIRIAM STOPPARD Helping to keep you fit and healthy

Q I have developed hard, painful bumps in the last joints of my fingers on each hand. They're unsightly and so tender that if I knock them, I almost faint. What are they and what can I do?

A These sound as if they are Heberden's nodes and they nearly always appear after the menopause, although no one knows precisely why the nodes occur.

They are bony outgrowths on the edges of the joint in the fingers and are thought to be due to diminishing levels of oestrogen. While they are growing, they can be very painful indeed. However, they usually become painless after a year or so. They are also quite unsightly and make your fingers look knobbly.

I'm afraid that there's no specific treatment, but you can take painkillers if the pain is severe, although in that case you should see your doctor first.

The spinal joints tend to age by forming the same bony prominences in the neck and the lower back. They can be the cause of limb pain by pressing on nerves.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2014
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