Basal Thumb Arthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joint where the base of the thumb connects with the wrist (the carpometacarpal joint or CMC joint). This disease often is classified in Stages I-IV. At Stage IV, the disease is also at other joints connected to surrounding wrist bones.
How does this happen?
Arthritis of the thumb can include osteoarthritis or "wear and tear" arthritis as well as joint changes due to trauma or connective tissue diseases.
How will we know that this is your problem?
The diagnosis of arthritis is usually made through a combination of your medical history and physical examination. Your physician may order diagnostic tests, such as blood work and x-rays, which will help rule out other problems and confirm the diagnosis. In many patients the pain associated with this problem tends to cycle.
How can this be treated?
Treatment in the early stages of this disease can include rest and modification of daily routines that trigger the joint pain, along with anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs). Braces or splints are sometimes used. In later stages, there are many effective surgical procedures such as arthroscopic debridement or removal of the trapezium bone with either ligament reconstruction or suspension. Some patients are candidates for a joint replacement.
This is the Doctor you want!
Dr. Gleb Medvedev practices at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. He is a fellowship-trained Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in hand and wrist conditions, such as basal thumb arthritis. The additional training he received in hand surgery is considered to be among the best in the world.