(HealthDay News) — Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and glucocorticoids seem to be effective for hand osteoarthritis (OA), according to a review published online Sept. 28 in RMD Open.

Anna Døssing, MD, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of randomized trials to explore the effectiveness of pharmacological interventions for hand OA. Seventy-two trials with 7,609 participants were included; 65 trials with 5,957 participants were eligible for the quantitative synthesis, examining 29 pharmacological interventions.

For the study, Døssing and her colleagues reviewed 65 studies of close to 5,250 people with hand osteoarthritis. The studies looked at 29 types of treatment for the condition.

Injections were found to be ineffective, but most people in the study received injections for osteoarthritis in the base of their thumb. Hydroxychloroquine, an arthritis medication that affects the immune system, was also found to be ineffective for hand arthritis, and the effectiveness of topical creams and gels for pain wasn’t clear, the study showed.

The findings were published Sept. 28 in the journal RMD Open.

The article reveals a “surprising lack of effectiveness of intra-articular glucocorticoids, a widely employed and traditionally fundamental treatment for hand arthritis, specifically thumb-base arthritis,” said Daniel Polatsch, MD, co-director of The New York Hand and Wrist Center of Lenox Hill Hospital and an associate professor in the department of orthopedic surgery at Zucker School of Medicine/Northwell in New York City.

“This discovery stands in stark contrast to the prevailing beliefs and experiences of most hand surgeons, myself included, in our clinical practice,” Polatsch said.