Thumb Base Arthritis

Thumb base arthritis occurs in the trapezium, the wrist bone at the base of the thumb. Because thumbs are used so much, it’s common for the cartilage in this joint to wear away. This damage to the joint leads to aching, weakness, and swelling; gripping things becomes difficult. If the condition progresses, it can cause the thumb joint to become hyperextended, creating an enlarged or bony appearance.

Modification of activities that cause strain is essential in these cases. Treatment options can include anti-inflammatory medication, the use of splints, or steroid injections.

If the condition worsens, surgery is the only definitive treatment. The surgeon will remove all of the arthritic bone or depending on patient suitability a joint replacement can be considered. After either type of  operation a resting splint is used for two weeks and then a removable splint is used for four more weeks with the aid of hand therapy to speed up recovery. Returning to work can take anywhere from 3-12 weeks, depending on the amount of strain on the hands.

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