Arthritis of the basal joint of the thumb is a condition that irritates or destroys the joint at the base of the thumb. The smooth cartilage which covers the ends of the bones, and enables the bones to glide easily in the joint, can wear out, causing increased friction and damage to the bones and the joint. 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. The demands on this joint caused by normal hand function, leads to increased stress on the basal joint, predisposing it to developing arthritis.

Typically patients complain of pain with activities that involve gripping or pinching, such as turning a key, opening a door, or snapping your fingers. Sometimes swelling and tenderness at the base of the thumb and loss of strength in gripping or pinching activities is seen. With time stiffness develops.
The diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the basal joint of the thumb is typically made by a combination of the patient’s history, the findings on physical examination, and x-rays.
Initially basal joint arthritis will respond to nonsurgical treatment like activity modification, splints, or in severe cases a cast, anti-inflammatory medication, and cortisone injections. If symptoms persist, surgery can be considered. This includes reconstructive options like removing the diseased part of the joint and using a tendon graft or a soft tissue filler from the surrounding capsule to create a spacer in the joint. This allow mobility to be maintained after the painful surfaces of the joint have been removed.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr. Aboka brings added expertise in minimally invasive treatment of Basal Joint Arthritis of the thumb, facilitating your return to pain-free function. This procedure is an outpatient/same-day surgery, and is done through a small incision, leading to less pain and scarring and quicker recovery and return to normal function