by Kelli Slifer, CHT

Arthritis is a common condition experienced by more than 50 million Americans.  There are many different types of arthritis related to joint pain, joint disease and inflammation.

One common type of arthritis is basilar thumb arthritis, also known as carpometacarpal or CMC arthritis. Thumb arthritis commonly occurs with aging, but can also be caused by previous trauma or injury to the joint. With thumb arthritis, the cartilage (or cushioning) of the joint deteriorates causing bone on bone contact which results in pain and the formation of bone spurs. 

Common symptoms of basilar thumb arthritis include hand pain, stiffness, poor range of motion, and decreased strength. Pain and tenderness are often the first sign of CMC arthritis. Patients feel pain at the base of the thumb with gripping, pinching or using thumb to apply force. 

The inflammation and pain in your thumb will gradually begin to reduce your range of motion. Tasks that were once easy, such as holding a glass or fastening buttons, can become difficult and painful. 

Finally, the appearance of the hand can also be a sign of CMC arthritis. Patient may experience swelling or an enlarged bony appearance at the base of their thumb. 

 Is Basilar Thumb Arthritis treatable?

In the early stages, CMC arthritis can be treated with non-surgical therapies such as splints, medication, injections and activity modification. Your doctor may recommend a splint to give your thumb the support in needs to rest. Splints can be pre-fabricated or custom fabricated by a physical or occupational therapist who specializes in the treatment of hands. A splint can encourage proper positioning of the joint during functional activities. 

However, if non-surgical management does not work or your arthritis becomes or is severe, orthopedic surgery may be necessary. There is more than one surgical procedure for the treatment of basilar thumb arthritis so be sure to talk to your doctor about which option might be right for you. 

Basilar thumb arthritis can be very painful and limit your ability to use your hands. However, your local orthopedic services can help to reduce your pain and treat your arthritis efficiently. To learn more about basilar thumb arthritis treatment options, contact OrthoNeuro today.

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