Arthritis At The Base Of The Thumb

Arthritis at the base of the thumb

Many patients affected by this painful arthritis assume that nothing can be done to help them. The first line treatments for this condition are adapting your lifestyle to prevent certain activities which make the pain worse, taking regular painkillers and trying a splint to immobilise the thumb joints which provides support to the thumb.

If this is insufficient and medical intervention is required then in some cases an injection of steroid into the joint can give good pain relief, sometimes for many months.

Patient having their 1st carpometacarpal joint injected with cortisone.

If these measures fail and a patient has significant pain which is interfering with the use of their hand they can be treated surgically. There are numerous different operations available for treating this problem, and the one most commonly done throughout the country is called a trapeziectomy.

Over the years surgeons have tried various other operations to treat this problem, but there is no evidence to show better results for any of them compared with the standard trapeziectomy. Recently some surgeons have tried using artificial joints to treat arthritis of this joint, but whereas joint replacements have been highly successful for the treatment of most other joints in the body such as the hip or knee, for the thumb base none of the implants used to date have proved to be any better than a trapeziectomy in the long term. The early recovery may be quicker but there is a high risk of complications and failure in the longer term.

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