A Patient’s Guide to Basilar Joint Arthritis Treatment

A common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis that affects various joints in the body. When it involves the joint at your thumb’s base where it meets your wrist it is referred to as basilar joint arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage in the bones of the thumb begins to  wears away, and is s associated with aging. Thumb arthritis seems to affect women more than men.

Some common symptoms of basilar joint arthritis include:

Swelling at the base of your thumb

A warmth sensation at the base of your thumb

Pain when grasping or pinching

Tenderness to the touch

Any of these symptoms could be a sign of this type of arthritis, however to be sure, you would need to see a hand specialist. Your activity level determines the intensity of your pain which can limit function. Your thumb base joint can swell or get enlarged as the disease progresses. If not treated can lead to difficulty when trying to open your hand around large objects.

A Florida hand doctor can identify this condition by taking a looking at how your thumb looks and where you are experiencing pain. The hand specialist may grind or twist your basal joint to see if you experience symptoms or apply longitudinal pressure along your thumb. He typically takes x-rays to confirm the severity of your symptoms and diagnose the problem.

Treatments of Thumb Arthritis

Even though there is no real cure for any type of arthritis, treatments can help alleviate your pain. Some treatments of arthritis of the thumb include:

Steroid Injection

The hand doctor will first try a steroid injection and put your thumb in a brace. After your injection, a  short period of activity modification is recommended to help your increase your thumb’s ability to work properly.


Heat, ice or topical medications are often used as well. These are fairly effective forms of non-surgical treatments for this type of arthritis and can usually lead to substantial improvement. If not, you may require surgical treatments from a hand surgeon such as carpometacarpal joint arthroplasty.


During surgery, your Florida hand surgeon fuses your joint bones together. This will reduce your pain, but you won’t have any flexibility. The surgeon can either cut and reposition the bones or remove a bone in your thumb joint. Most of your joint can also be removed and replaced with a graft from some of your other tendons. Generally, your hand surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and regaining range of motion and strength will take some time.

Although thumb arthritis doesn’t have a cure, these treatments above can help relieve your symptoms so you can use your hands as you are supposed to.