Arthritic Thumb
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There are three forms of arthritis:
  • Osteoarthritis/Degenerative Arthritis
  • Traumatic Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
The joints of our body are cushioned with a material called hyaline cartilage. With age, normal wear and tear of the cartilage takes place in most joints. The loss of cartilage can cause disability or deform the joint and spurs bone may develop around the joint. These symptoms are the result of a condition known as osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis also causes swelling that limits motion.
Osteoarthritis of the thumb typically affects the base of the thumb or the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint. Traumatic arthritis is the result of injury to the joint or surrounding ligaments. The damage can cause arthritis because the structures supporting the joint have become weakened or misaligned.

Another form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. This is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints which are typically normally smooth becomes painful and swollen.
Symptoms Include:
  • Stiffness and limited motion at the base of the thumb.
  • Swelling and pain.
  • Loss of grip strength.

Arthritis of the thumb can be treated with non-surgical and surgical procedures. Surgical intervention is typically not considered until it has become impossible to control the symptoms without it.

Non-surgical treatment
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, Naprosyn and Celebrex may be used to decrease pain. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting these medications.
  • Thumb braces that reduce the unwanted motion in the thumb.
Surgical treatment
  • Fusion of the CMC joint.
  • Tendon graft or allograft.

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