A new study reported in the journal Arthritis Care and Research found that type 3 finger length pattern, where the fourth finger is longer than the second finger, may be a valid non-invasive biomarker for risk of chronic joint pain and osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand.
This type of finger pattern is an indicator of prenatal exposure to high androgen levels, which are known to be involved in the development of the skeleton, and also might result in cartilage that is more susceptible to osteoarthritis in later life.
The researchers also report that type 3 finger pattern was significantly associated with chronic joint pain, and that this association became stronger with chronic joint pain affecting more than two sites. There was little change in the strength of these associations when patients with severe OA in the second digit were excluded from the analysis. The team concludes that this suggests that the chronic pain, and not the presence of OA, might explain the association found. All of the associations were independent of other known risk factors for OA, such as age, gender and body mass index. Read more about the research here.