Having a ring finger longer than an index finger nearly doubles the chance of developing osteoarthritis in the knees — and women are the most at risk — according to a new study.

While size differences between people’s ring fingers and index fingers has been linked to sexual and physical ability and performance in university exams, researchers at the University of Nottingham have now discovered that arthritis could be connected to the hands.

The researchers found that people with the common male trait of having index fingers that were shorter than ring fingers — which was called type 3 — were also more likely to develop osteoarthritis in the hips.

“The type 3 finger pattern was associated with knee osteoarthritis, and the risk was greater in women than in men,” the researchers said in an article in the Arthritis and Rheumatism journal.

“The risk of knee osteoarthritis in participants with type 3 finger patterns was nearly twice that for participants without this pattern. The mechanism that accounts for this association is unknown.”

The researchers said men were more than 2.5 times more likely than women to have shorter index fingers.

But they also said women who have the "male trait" were more likely to develop certain medical conditions.

“Type 3 finger pattern was also associated with female estrogen deficiency surrogate of earlier onset of menopause.”

The finger lengths of more than 2,000 arthritis sufferers across the UK were measured in the study.