Arthritis is a condition that happens when a joint begins to wear away or develop irritation. It can affect any joint, including the thumb. Thumb arthritis is sometimes called basal joint arthritis. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons , thumb arthritis usually occurs after 40 years of age and is more common in women than in men. While arthritis of the thumb can be painful, a doctor can recommend treatments to reduce symptoms and improve a person's range of motion and quality of life.
Thumb Arthritis | UW Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Seattle
Arthritis is a condition that irritates or destroys a joint. Although there are several types of arthritis, the one that most often affects the joint at the base of the thumb the basal joint is osteoarthritis degenerative or "wear-and-tear" arthritis. Smooth cartilage covers the ends of the bones. It enables the bones to glide easily in the joint. Without it, bones rub against each other, causing friction and damage to the bones and the joint. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage begins to wear away. The joint at the base of the thumb, near the wrist and at the fleshy part of the thumb, enables the thumb to swivel, pivot, and pinch so that you can grip things in your hand.
Thumb arthritis is most common in the thumb carpometacarpal joint, between the base of the thumb metacarpal and a wrist bone the trapezium. Thumb arthritis is sometimes referred to as basal joint arthritis. Due to the stresses with everyday activities, basal joint arthritis is very common.
During a physical exam, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and look for noticeable swelling or lumps on your joints. Your doctor might hold your joint while moving your thumb, with pressure, against your wrist bone. If this movement produces a grinding sound, or causes pain or a gritty feeling, the cartilage has likely worn down, and the bones are rubbing against each other. In the early stages of thumb arthritis, treatment usually involves a combination of non-surgical therapies. If your thumb arthritis is severe, surgery might be necessary.