Thumb Base Arthritis2024-05-02T12:18:02+00:00

Thumb Base Arthritis

Thumb Base Arthritis

Recognising the Symptoms of Thumb Base Arthritis

Base of thumb pain – CMC Arthritis

When the base of your thumb aches, everyday tasks become a challenge. If you’re dealing with thumb arthritis, know that you’re not alone. I specialise in advanced treatments, including joint replacements using the ELiS total joint replacement implant. This innovative option can restore function and reduce pain so you can get back to doing what you love.

Understanding Thumb Base Arthritis

Osteoarthritis at the base of your thumb affects the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint, where the thumb meets the wrist. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Symptoms: Pain, stiffness, swelling, and sometimes a bony bump at the thumb base. Difficulty with grip, pinch, and twisting motions.
  • Causes: Wear and tear of the cartilage lining the CMC joint, often age-related, but can occur after injuries.

  • Treatment: Includes activity modification, splinting, injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and surgery for severe cases.

Don’t let thumb pain limit your daily activities. Let’s discuss the cause of your discomfort and find a treatment plan to improve your hand function.

Thumb Base Arthritis FAQs

Base of thumb arthritis, or CMC joint arthritis, is a type of osteoarthritis that affects the joint where the thumb’s metacarpal bone meets the trapezium (a small wrist bone). This results in pain, stiffness, and loss of function.

Like other forms of osteoarthritis, the exact cause is often unknown. Factors include wear and tear over time, previous injury to the joint, genetics, and certain medical conditions.
Common symptoms include pain at the base of the thumb (worsening with gripping, pinching), stiffness, decreased range of motion, swelling, and a grinding or crackling sensation.
Diagnosis starts with a physical examination and your medical history. X-rays are the main imaging used to confirm osteoarthritis and the amount of damage within the joint.
    • Activity Modification: Changing how you do tasks can lessen stress on the joint.
    • Hand Therapy: Hand therapists teach exercises, offer custom splints for support and pain relief, and provide training with adaptive equipment.
    • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers (paracetamol, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen) or prescription options.
    • Steroid Injections: Cortisone injections directly into the joint can offer temporary pain relief.
    • Newer injections: PRP injections are very successful in the knee and other joints but as yet the literature has not extended to the base of the full stop it does hold great promise though. Arthrosamid  is an even newer type of injection that  turns off the lining of the joint (synovium)  and therefore you experience less painful stop those are these injections would have to be self-funded and are expensive. I can give you more details on request 
When non-surgical options fail to adequately control pain and limit daily life, surgery might be recommended.
  • Trapeziectomy: This involves removing the trapezium bone at the base of the thumb. Modifications (with tendon reconstruction) offer more stability.
  • Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty): Older-style replacements often fail. Newer implants have gained increased interest.

ELiS represents the latest generation of CMC joint replacements. Unlike bulkier implants, it’s compact and aims to replicate the natural movement of the CMC joint, maximising pain relief while enhancing mobility.

Potential benefits include a reduction in pain, better hand function, increased preservation of range of motion, and quicker recovery due to a less invasive procedure.
ELiS could be an option if you have severe base of thumb arthritis and conservative measures have failed. We can discuss if this advanced treatment is right for you.

Overall success rates vary but newer joint replacements are promising, And the latest evidence is that they are as good as a hip replacement. After all we did simply miniaturise the hip replacement to use in the thumb! Factors like surgical technique, severity of your arthritis, and your rehabilitation commitment all play a role.

Any surgery carries risks: infection, implant loosening, changes in feeling around the thumb, dislocation and  continued pain. Risks should be thoroughly discussed with your surgeon.

  • Recovery timelines differ, but often require one or two weeks of immobilisation, followed by hand therapy. Full restoration of strength can take months.
  • You will essentially be the same at four weeks after a joint replacement as a trapezoctomy is after four months 

Currently, no cure exists for osteoarthritis. However, treatments can improve pain and function significantly.

While you can’t entirely prevent it, protecting your joints, and managing risk factors like obesity might lessen the development and progression of arthritis.

There’s no evidence thumb cracking is linked to osteoarthritis.

Some people report their symptoms fluctuate with weather changes, but there’s no definitive scientific proof.

No specific diet reverses osteoarthritis, but maintaining a healthy weight and eating anti-inflammatory foods might positively impact overall joint health.

Evidence for using supplements is limited. Talk to your doctor before self-treating.

Your primary care doctor can start to address it but many are not aware of the up-to-date things that I can do for you to take you out of pain. Rheumatologists specialise in arthritis management. Hand surgeons like me, focus on surgical needs.
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