Basal Joint Arthritis in San Diego, CA
Arthritis is the disease that causes inflammation and stiffness in the joints.
It often affects the joint at the base of the thumb, called the basal joint. Basal joint arthritis is most common in women over 40, but anyone can get it. The most common symptom is pain in the lower part of the thumb, near the wrist. You may feel pain when you lift something with the thumb and fingers, unscrew a jar lid, or turn a door handle or key. The joint may swell, and with time the thumb may become stiff or deformed. As symptoms progress you may feel a grinding or clicking sensation associated with pain. Weakness is common due to the importance of the thumb for grip and pinch.
Accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan requires x-rays and the input of a hand specialist. Treatment in the early phase includes use of oral and topical anti inflammatory medication, splinting, stretches, and exercise. If these efforts fail to produce lasting improvement, cortisone injection can further control inflammation and pain. In appropriate circumstances, surgery is needed to improve function of the joint. Joint replacement is a common procedure for advanced basal joint thumb arthritis.
Please see my blog post on this subject: The Hand Doctor Is In!
AAOS Fact Page: Arthritis of the Thumb