Arthritis of the Thumb
Modify activity when arthritis symptoms increase, try to stay active
Thumb arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis in the hand
Women are 10 to 20 times more likely than men to develop thumb arthritis
What is thumb arthritis?
Normally in a joint, cartilage covers the ends of bones and creates a shock absorber to allow pain-free movement. With arthritis, the cartilage deteriorates, which results in contact between the bones. This produces pain and eventually deformity. We are discussing arthritis of the base of the thumb. This is the most common site of arthritis in the hand. The joint, also called the carpometacarpal or CMC joint, is a saddle shaped joint that allows the thumb to have a wide range of motions. This gives you the ability to pinch and grab things. CMC joint arthritis may make it difficult to accomplish many everyday tasks.
Who gets it?
Arthritis of the base of the thumb is more commonly seen in women over the age of 40. It is a fairly common problem that happens to around 7% of men and 15% of women. There are conservative treatments, but many arthritic thumb cases commonly requires surgery.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of CMC joint arthritis is pain at the base of the thumb. It often becomes difficult to do everyday tasks, such as opening jars, turning door knobs or writing. The pain can become so severe that you may experience pain at night when sleeping. In more severe cases destruction and mal-alignment of the joint occurs, and a bump develops. If you start to experience these symptoms you may want to consult your doctor, who can advise you on the best option to treat your discomfort. They will diagnose you by a physical evaluation as well as X-rays of your hand. X-rays are used to confirm the diagnosis, although the severity of your arthritis cannot always be determined with x-ray findings.
Non Surgical Options – conservative treatments such as anti-inflammatories or cortisone injections. If these treatments do not help your pain your doctor may refer you to a surgeon to discuss your discomfort.
Surgical Treatment Options – following are five common surgical treatment options for thumb arthritis: Joint Fusion, Ligament Reconstruction and Tendon Interposition (LRTI), Arthroscopy, Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty), Osteotomy. Learn More