What is basilar joint arthritis and how can Florida Hand Center treat it?


Many people are wondering, what is basilar joint arthritis?, which is why the Florida Hand Center produced this video.

The thumb basilar joint is located at the base of the thumb where it attaches to the wrist, and is the most mobile joint in the hand. For those wondering what is basilar joint arthritis?, it’s a form of arthritis that affects the thumb and in severe cases can require joint replacement surgery (carpo metacarpal joint arthroplasty). Like other joints, it is normally covered with cartilage, a smooth coating which allows painless and smooth movement. Joint arthritis occurs when these smooth surfaces wear out. The initial symptom is a toothache-like pain in the wrist or thumb with activities that involve gripping, pinching, or twisting. Some patients notice pain with weather changes. Weakness and decreased flexibility occur as the arthritis progresses. Basilar joint arthritis can affect both thumbs.

Basilar joint arthritis is a result of thinning of the cartilage between the thumb and the wrist. The joint then becomes inflamed leading to pain and swelling. It is seen with all forms of arthritis including rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, and gout. It can occur after fractures or injuries to the thumb although most cases have no clear causes. Like other forms of arthritis, it is more common in women than men.

The diagnosis is made by a hand specialist the patient’s history of an ache or soreness in the thumb, followed by an examination and X-rays. The thumb mobility may be decreased and with manipulation of the thumb. Eventually the base of the thumb may enlarge because of swelling in the joint or formation of bone spurs.

Although there is currently no cure for arthritis, the pain from basilar joint arthritis responds well to treatment. The initial treatment by a hand specialists a steroid injection in conjunction with the use of a brace. Florida Hand Center has a 95% success rate with steroid injections as a treatment for basilar joint arthritis. Ice, heat or other topical medicines may also be helpful. These treatments are the most effective non-surgical treatments for this condition and will usually be offered the first time a patient is diagnosed and asks: What is basilar joint arthritis and how can it be treated?

If these treatments are unsuccessful, surgery by a hand specialist may be suggested.

The surgical procedure performed, carpal metacarpal arthroplasty with tendon transfer, is the “gold standard” for arthritis at the base of the thumb. This is performed an average of 50 times per year. The video explains basilar joint arthritis surgery and how it improves a patient’s quality of life.