When the joint cartilage starts to degenerate, you may experience moderate to severe pain in certain joints. This is known as osteoarthritis and can occur in the hands. Thumb arthritis, also known as basal joint arthritis, is the second most common type of arthritis in the hand.
What is Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis?
Thumb basal joint arthritis is a degenerative arthritis of the thumb that usually develops after reaching 40 years of age. People who have a genetic disposition to developing arthritis are more likely to have this type of arthritis. Any trauma or injury to the thumb, or inflammatory conditions that cause deterioration of the joint, can also lead to thumb arthritis.
Common symptoms of this condition include swelling or stiffness at the base of the thumb joint, weakness of the hands, and bone spur development. The pain can be debilitating at times and as the arthritis progresses, weakness and decreased range of motion are common.
Dr. Kilaru will conduct a physical exam and do some tests to make sure the thumb is moving properly. X-rays may be needed to diagnose the condition.
Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis Treatment
Both nonsurgical and surgical treatments can be effective for treating thumb basal joint arthritis. Since arthritis is a progressive disease, symptoms typically get worse with time and there are currently no medications or supplements that can prevent the progression of thumb arthritis.
Non-surgical treatment options include wearing a brace, exercising the hands, making ergonomic adjustments, and avoiding heavy lifting and other activities that would put strain on the thumb joint. Steroid injections can help relieve some of the pain in the basal joint and occupational therapy can help some patients maintain full functioning of the hand and thumb.
Surgery is recommended as a last resort when nonsurgical treatments have failed. Surgery may involve removing some of the bones in the thumb job and adding some cushioning materials to improve joint function. In some cases, fusing the thumb joint bones can be effective for relieving symptoms.
What to Expect with Thumb Basal Joint Arthritis Treatment
Some patients do respond to non-surgical treatment and can continue to perform exercises at home to prevent pain and stiffness of the joint. Recovery from surgery can take between 8 weeks to a year and treatment may include seeing a hand therapist.
If you are experiencing symptoms of thumb basal joint arthritis or osteoarthritis, you may need to see a hand surgeon for an evaluation. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Kilaru today.