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Basal Joint Arthritis

What Is Basal Joint Arthritis?

Basal joint arthritis is a condition that results when your joint cartilage in the base of your thumb wears away. The condition is also known simply as thumb arthritis and is one of the most common forms of osteoarthritis in the hand.

The basal joint makes it possible for your thumb to move around and do small tasks, such as picking up objects or holding a pen. Without sufficient cartilage, the joints start to grind together with each movement, causing additional damage.

What Are The Causes Arthritis In The Thumb?

Basal joint arthritis, or arthritis of the thumb, is a painful condition caused by the deterioration of cartilage at the basal joint at the root of the thumb. The basal joint is responsible for much of the thumb’s fine motor function, and repetitive use over time can cause the cartilage to wear down. Post-traumatic Thumb arthritis can also be caused by a sharp blow to the base of the thumb, sustained during a fall or other accident.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Joint Arthritis?

The first indication you may have arthritis in your thumb is pain and tenderness when you move. You may also find it difficult to grasp objects with your thumb or perform activities like snapping your fingers or turning a door handle.

As the condition progresses, you may experience persistent pain in the base of the thumb. Inflammation can also make it difficult to move your thumb as you usually would.

You may also notice increased swelling in your thumb. In some cases, your joint can shift out of alignment, and your thumb may appear deformed or bent backward.

What Are The Risk Factors Basal Joint Arthritis?

Basal joint arthritis occurs most frequently in people over the age of 40, and it is more likely to develop in women than men. Thumb arthritis is most commonly caused by osteoarthritis, but it has also been linked to rheumatoid arthritis in some cases. Other risk factors include obesity, hereditary abnormalities in the structure of joint, and everyday tasks affecting the thumb, which range from heavy lifting to smartphone use and playing video games.

How Is Thumb​ Arthritis Diagnosed?

Dr. Nance reviews your symptoms and performs a physical exam of your thumb, checking for swelling and evaluating your pain level. If she suspects you have arthritis, Dr. Nance may order X-rays to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions.

What Are The Possible Treatments?

Initially, Dr. Nance may recommend non-surgical treatments to reduce your pain and improve your range of motion. She may use a splint to prevent movement in your joint and encourage rest. Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce pain and inflammation, too.

If a splint isn’t enough to improve your symptoms, Dr. Nance may recommend corticosteroid injections. These injections go directly into your thumb joint to reduce inflammation and increase your comfort.

Surgical options are available to treat severe arthritis that makes it impossible to bend or move your thumb. Surgical techniques to realign the joint and fuse bones can improve your symptoms. Dr. Nance may also recommend surgery if your thumb joint has too much damage.

Stop living with chronic joint pain in your thumb by scheduling an appointment online or by phone with Dr. Nance.

Meet Dr. Erin Nance

Dr. Erin Nance specializes in orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgery, as well as traditional orthopedic services. Dr. Nance takes her time with every patient in her Midtown East, New York office, ensuring everyone gets the care and attention they deserve. Learn More »

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