Basal Joint Thumb Arthritis

Basal Joint Thumb Arthritis
December 20, 2015

8081The basal joint is the joint which allows you to move your thumb into all kinds of positions so that you can pick things up, button clothing, open lids and do many such activities. When this joint at the base of your thumb develops arthritis, causing severe pain and hindering

functionality it is known as Basal Joint Arthritis (disease which attacks or destroys a joint). In terms of Head, Shoulder and Hand Division, MAX Saket & Gurgaon, former Dr Gupta, Director ‘The Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery’ at The Medanta Institute of Bone & Joint Disease, Gurgaon, “Basal joint arthritis is a degenerative disease that wears down the cartilage (protective covering that surrounds the ends of the bones and allows them to glide and move smoothly) surrounding the joint. Without the cartilage, the bone ends rub against each other causing damage to both bones and the joint.

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Arthritis at the base of the thumb is one of the most common locations and thus can be very disabling and pain from this condition may impede the most basic everyday tasks. Thus it needs to be treated diligently and efficiently.

Dr Gupta with an experience of 20 years and over 6000 successful surgeries to his credit coherently emphasizes that women should be extremely careful regarding this arthritis. He stresses that though the cause of this form of arthritis is unknown in most cases but usually some past injury, fracture or severe sprain or joint laxity increases the chance of developing this form of arthritis. Though it can affect any age and gender, women above 40 are usually the targets of this disease.

The most common symptom of thumb basal joint arthritis is a deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb. It often worsens with activities that involve pinch, including opening jars, turning door knobs or keys and writing. As the disease progresses, patients experience pain at rest and at night and often start to lose their pinch and strength in their grip, stresses Dr Vikas, an eminent surgeon who has been the first to bring many international techniques of treating complex hand and upper extremity problems in India.

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For relief, your surgeon initially may suggest anti-inflammatory medications, ice, heat, cortisone injections, thumb exercises, nutritional supplements and even splints to support thumb during activities.

But if you do not respond to non-surgical treatment then your advanced arthritis will have to be treated by surgical techniques which might include removal of arthritic bone and joint reconstruction, bone fusion or realignment techniques.

Surgeons adopt the mode of treatment that is best applicable to the patient after complete appraisal and as regards surgery, Dr. Gupta says, “A variety of surgical techniques are available that can successfully reduce or eliminate pain and improve thumb position and

function but the degree of function and strength that is restored varies.”


FAQ – Basal Thumb Arthriti

The thumb easily moves in all directions with the help of basal joint which lies at the base of the thumb. When the basal joint of the thumb is marred by Arthritis it is known as Basal Thumb Arthritis.
Arthritis is a disease or a debilitating condition which destroys the joint by affecting or damaging the cartilage which surrounds the end of the bones which enables them to glide and move smoothly.
It is difficult to ascertain the exact reasons why Basal Thumb Arthritis strikes but among the probable reasons are growing age more so after 40, previous trauma or injury sustained by the thumb or joint laxity. Women more than 40 are more susceptible to this conditional trauma.
The most common sign that indicates basal thumb arthritis is a deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb while grasping, gripping or pinching an object and application of force by the thumb. Other visible signs are swelling, stiffness and lack of motion. Enlarged appearance of the joint at the base of the thumb is another significant sign.
Some factors which increase the risk are:
  • Patient being female in gender and more so above 40

  • Obesity

  • Any hereditary disease regarding joints

  • Prior fractures or injuries to the thumb

  • Activities that put extreme repeated pressure on the thumb

  • Presence of Rheumatoid arthritis/osteoarthritis

After a thorough physical examination and looking out for noticeable lumps and swelling the orthopedic might move the patient’s thumb with pressure towards the wrist joint to look for a crackling kind of sound to determine the wearing down of cartilage. To further the prognosis imaging tests like X-rays are recommended to determine the exact nature and extent of damage.
Thumb arthritis is treated by both nonsurgical and surgical techniques depending on their severity.
Nonsurgical techniques comprise of oral medications, corticosteroid injections and splint to support the joint and immobilize it for a fixed period to limit its movements. When all conservative methods fail to provide relief to both enervating pain and mobility then the surgeon adheres to surgical techniques which might be any one of the following- Joint fusion (arthrodesis)
Joint replacement (arthroplasty)
Once the surgery is performed, the orthopedic will put the thumb or wrist in splint for a few weeks to enable healing.
Posted in Condition & Treatments by admin