The thumb is an amazing – and very human – digit. Thumbs are used for grasping, pinching, and twisting. We humans almost take them for granted each time we turn a doorknob or open a bottle. People suffering from Basilar Joint Arthritis are painfully aware of their thumbs, however. This type of arthritic condition affects the joint at the base of the thumb near the wrist, causing the sufferer to have pain, stiffness, and to lose range of motion in the thumb. It is a very common reason why patients seek help from a hand doctor.
Causes of Basilar Joint Arthritis
This condition is most common in people over 40, with females at a higher risk. While other types of arthritis can affect the basilar joint in the hand, osteoarthritis leading to inflammation of the joint is the most common reason for the associated pain. In a healthy joint, joint fluids and cartilage protect and encapsulate the joint, allowing for smooth and pain-free movement. Osteoarthritis – often called wear-and-tear or degenerative arthritis- is a condition that arises due to a breakdown of the cartilage and fluids surrounding a joint due to age, repetitive motion, or genetics. Studies have shown that this condition is also commonly seen in conjunction with with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Symptoms of Arthritis of the Basilar Joint
As mentioned, pain at the base of the thumb with use and limited movement are common symptoms, but swelling near the joint, tenderness, enlargement of the joint, or a bony lump on or near the joint may also appear. A gritting or crunching sound may happen upon movement once the smooth cartilage has worn away. Generally that rubbing may lead to inflammation, which is the real source of the pain and swelling. A hand specialist will listen to the patient’s symptoms and perform tests such as x-rays in order to be sure of the diagnosis.
Treatments with a Hand Surgeon
Both surgical and non-surgical treatments are available for Basilar Joint Arthritis. Non-surgical treatments – when taking an initial conservative approach is practical – may include splinting or bracing the wrist and thumb to minimize motion and decrease inflammation. Often, anti-inflammatory medications are also used to treat the pain and swelling. In some cases, steroid injections into the joint may provide temporary relief. For some patients, this is sufficient in order to treat the arthritis. However, this is a degenerative condition that will progress. Hand Surgery is an option for individuals who do not get lasting relief from the more conservative measures. More than one type of surgery is available for those individuals who struggle with this condition, and a Hand Surgeon can help patients decide which option will best help the individual.
Suffering from joint pain and loss of use of the all-important thumb isn’t a condition anyone needs to live with another day. Contact our office in Fort Myers or Port Charlotte to for an appointment today.