Thumb basal joint arthritis is a painful condition that affects many individuals as they age. The joint at the base of the thumb between the first metacarpal and trapezium is the second most common site for osteoarthritis in the body after the knee. Thumb arthritis is more commonly seen in women because they naturally have more laxity in their joints.

When the cartilage is damaged or starts aging, it tries to heal itself by making bone spurs on the sides of the joint. This worsens the condition further because the formed bone spurs start impinging against each other causing more pain. These bone spurs may cause further joint instability and damage after growing into the ligaments that normally stabilize the joint.

Episodes of pain that affect grip and pinch are indicators of thumb arthritis. These episodes become longer and more frequent as the condition worsens. The initial stages of the disease may be more painful than the later stages. The swelling and the subluxation of the joint may worsen over time. Weakness may be quite disabling. In the end-stage of the disease, the joint becomes deformed and stiff. Interestingly, less pain is experienced at this stage because the joint does not move much any longer. However, the neighboring joints before and after the basal joint start sharing the loads more, which leads these joints to deteriorate and become painful over time.

At UofL Physicians – Kleinert Kutz Hand Care thumb arthritis is treated with conservative treatment initially, especially at younger ages. Turmeric is a spice that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is shown to be safe with fewer side effects compared to ibuprofen. Topical creams, ice and steroid injections may also be used. Patients are typically treated with conservative treatment at least for six months.

Many surgical options are available through UofL Health – Kleinert Kutz Surgery Center. After the surgery, splinting and casting are done for about six weeks before therapy is commenced.

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