Basal joint arthritis

The joint at the base of the thumb gives us our opoposable thumb, and is what separates us from lower primates. Because of the degree of freedom of motion at this joint, it is subject to developing arthritis, even if one does not have arthritis in any other part of the body. Symptoms usually include pain, limited motion of the thumb, and weak grip. Treatment options can be non-surgical or surgical. Non-surgical options include splinting, oral anti-inflammatory medications, therapy to learn activity modifications to reduce strain on the basal joint, or cortisone injections to reduce inflammation. If these treatments fail to control the symptoms of basal joint arthritis, and if the pain is intolerable, then there are surgical options which include arthroscopy or open surgery. Arthroscopic treatment is appropriate for earlier stage arthritis that does not respond to non-surgical management. It involves cleaning out the arthritic joint, and possibly inserting a cushion into the joint. For more advanced arthritis, open surgery is recommended, which involves removing the trapezium, the smaller of the two bones that make up the basal joint. The type of treatment appropriate for your thumb will be determined during discussions with Dr. Yu, after she learns about your particular needs and the demands on your hands.

Read more:

  • American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH)
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
  • The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS)