Objective: To study the prevalence of hand pain and hand disability in an open population, and the contribution of their potential determinants.
Methods: Baseline data were used from 7983 participants in the Rotterdam study (a population based study in people aged 55 years). A home interview was used to determine the presence of hand pain during the previous month, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis in any joint, diabetes, stroke, thyroid disease, neck/shoulder pain, gout, history of fracture in the past five years, and Parkinson's disease, as well as age, sex, and occupation. Hand disability was defined as the mean score of eight questions related to hand function. Body mass index was measured and hand x rays were taken.
Results: The one month period prevalence of hand pain was 16.9%. The prevalence of hand disability was 13.6%. In univariate analysis for hand pain, rheumatoid arthritis had the highest explained variance (R2) and odds ratio. For hand disability, aging showed the highest explained variance and Parkinson's disease had the highest odds ratio. All determinants together showed an explained variance of 19.8% for hand pain and 25.2% for hand disability. In multivariate analysis, positive radiographic hand osteoarthritis was a poor explanation for hand pain (R2 = 0.5%) or hand disability (R2 = 0).
Conclusions: The contribution of available potential determinants in this study was about 20% for hand pain and 25% for hand disability in an unselected population of elderly people. Thus a greater part of hand pain/hand disability remains unexplained.