Arthritis of the thumb: A common hand problem

Arthritis at the base of the thumb affects many adult females. What is it? How can it be treated? This article answers those questions and more.

Arthritis of the thumbMan with thumb pain

Articular cartilage can break down. The joint space narrows. The arthritis causes pain with motion. That arthritis often occurs in the hip and knee. It can also occur in the joint at the base of the thumb. That joint is known as the basal joint.

People who suffer thumb arthritis

Basal joint arthritis usually affects adults, especially older adults. Women suffer this pain more often than men.

Symptoms of thumb arthritis

A person affected with basal joint arthritis has pain at the base of the thumb just past the wrist. Activities of daily living that require hand or grip strength can be hard. Gripping jars and door handles and squeezing objects usually hurt.

Diagnosis of thumb pain

A hand surgeon can examine a patient with thumb pain. He often finds tenderness at the CMC joint. Motion of the base of the thumb can hurt. The surgeon can observe weakness with pinch and grip strength. X-rays can demonstrate narrowing of this joint.Volar thumb pain

Treatment options for thumb arthritis

With less severe basal joint arthritis, simple treatments might work. Anti-inflammatory medications and wearing a splint can decrease pain. Working with a hand therapist can improve motion and strength. A patient can even receive a cortisone shot into the base of the thumb.

Surgery can be performed if pain continues. Different types of surgery can be used based on the patient and the severity of the arthritis.

You might consider seeing a hand surgeon if you have pain at the base of your thumb. If you cannot perform some activities, the surgeon can discuss treatments with you.

Do you have arthritis of your thumb? How did your doctor treat it? Please share your experience below!

2 Responses to Arthritis of the thumb: A common hand problem

  1. I am a senior female golfer and this pain in the base joint of my thumb is very bad…is ice better than heat? What OTC things can I do??

    • Ice is generally better. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications or a brace to limit motion short term can be helpful.

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