What is arthritis mutilans (opera glass hands) due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

Updated: Feb 07, 2020
  • Author: Howard R Smith, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Arthritis mutilans (sometimes called opera glass hands) results if destruction is severe and extensive, with dissolution of bone. In the small joints of the hands, the phalanges may shorten, and the joints may become grossly unstable. Pulling on the fingers during examination may lengthen the digit in a manner resembling the opening of opera glasses, or the joint may bend in unusual directions merely under the pull of gravity.

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