Basal Joint Surgery

What is it and how is it performed?

The most common type of arthritis to affect the joint at the base of the thumb is osteoarthritis which is caused by the wearing away of the cartilage at the thumb joint (or basal joint). Surgery is an effective treatment when non-operative options have been exhausted. 

The expert orthopedic surgeons at OrthoNeuro are fully trained to perform the surgery needed to relieve pain and restore your strength and range of motion.

What Are The Causes of Basal Joint Arthritis?

Basal joint arthritis or thumb arthritis is when the cartilage of the thumb joint is worn away and exposes the bone. In a healthy hand, the cartilage will cushion the joint’s bones, allowing for smooth, pain-free movements. However, arthritic joints have deteriorated cartilage, allowing direct contact and friction between the bones. 

This can lead to pain at the base of the thumb when applying any type of force through the thumb. You will also see inflammation, decreased strength, and a limited range of motion.

The basal joint is the most common hand joint to get symptomatic arthritis. It is more common in women than men and is usually seen in those over 40 years old. It is thought to be a genetic condition.

What Are The Symptoms of Basal Joint Arthritis?

Symptoms of basal joint arthritis include:

  • Pain with pinching and gripping
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Bony joint appearance

How Is Basal Joint Arthritis Diagnosed?

The Orthopedic surgeons at OrthoNeuro can accurately diagnose a range of hand and wrist conditions. For example, they can diagnose your basal joint arthritis and the degree of damage to the joint. After considering your medical history, they will perform a physical examination. 

One method of identifying the condition includes holding firmly on the joint while moving the thumb. If the movement causes pain or a grinding sound is heard, the cartilage is likely damaged. 

Further examination can be done through the use of x-rays. X-rays show the level of deterioration of the joint, and they can highlight whether there are any bone spurs. 

What Nonsurgical Treatments Are Available?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections can be used to help with pain and swelling. A splint can also be used to support the thumb and limit movement. However, severe cases of basal joint arthritis may require surgery to relieve pain and other symptoms.

What Surgery Is Available for Basal Joint Arthritis?

The team at OrthoNeuro provides a comprehensive range of surgical procedures to treat basal joint arthritis. These procedures include:

  • Joint replacement (Arthroplasty). This involves removing part or all of the basal joint and replacing it with a graft from your tendon. The surgeon may also use metal devices or prostheses.
  • Joint fusion (Arthrodesis). The surgeon permanently fuses together the bones in the basal joint, which increases stability and reduces pain.

What Is Recovery Time for Basal Joint Surgery?

It may take up to 3-6 months to recover from basal joint surgery. Initially, you will be required to wear a splint to immobilize the thumb joint and wrist. After about six weeks, it will be taken off, and you will undergo physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.

Contact Us

You use your hands all the time. Don’t let pain interfere with your quality of life. Call OrthoNeuro today or make an appointment online if you have persistent pain in your hand that limits your movement or independence.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Specialist Today! 

  • If you have symptoms of basal joint arthritis, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Hand and Wrist Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 
  • We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you. 
  • Best of all, most patients can be seen within 24 hours of making an appointment.

Meet Our Elbow Specialists

Desmond J. Stutzman, DO

Orthopedic Hand & Elbow Surgeon

James C. Cassandra, DO

Orthopedic Hand and Elbow Surgeon

Gary M. Millard, DO

Orthopedic Hand & Elbow Surgeon

Scott P. Stephens. MD

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

Benjamin W. Szerlip, DO

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

Ryan D. Klinefelter

Orthopedic Hand Surgeon

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