Thumb arthritis, also known as carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthritis, is a condition characterized by the degeneration and wearing away of the cartilage in the joint at the base of the thumb. This joint is called the carpometacarpal joint and is located where the thumb connects to the wrist.
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Thumb arthritis surgery and treatment
In some cases, however, certain activities or incidents can trigger the onset of symptoms or cause a sudden increase in pain. These triggers can include activities that put stress on the thumb joint, such as repetitive gripping or pinching motions, or a sudden impact or injury to the thumb.
While the underlying arthritis may have been present for years without causing noticeable symptoms, these triggers can lead to the manifestation of pain and discomfort. It's not uncommon for individuals to visit a healthcare professional due to sudden thumb soreness or pain and subsequently receive a diagnosis of arthritis.
As the condition progresses, the symptoms tend to worsen, and activities that involve pinching or gripping can become increasingly difficult and painful. The pain can become chronic and may interfere with daily activities, leading individuals to seek medical attention for treatment and relief.
It's important to note that the onset and progression of thumb arthritis can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience a slow and gradual onset, while others may have a more abrupt presentation due to specific triggers. If you suspect you have thumb arthritis or are experiencing persistent thumb pain, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
This is a point where you may get referred to either a athletic therapist to make an appropriate brace for you, because bracing does help. In treating this condition, often seeing a local massage therapist for muscle tension, a local personal trainer for muscle strength and a physiotherapist for release and conditioning is a good option.
You can treat this with anti-inflammatories, and some doctors like to administer injections into the joint. Ultimately, if it because unmanageable with these vitalities, surgery is recommended.
The most common operation for arthritis at the base of the thumb involves removing a bone. The bone is a trapezium. This is a bone that’s at the bottom of the thumb metacarpal.
If you excise this bone, there’s no longer a bone for the metacarpal to rub against. The problem is you need to do something else to suspend that bone so it doesn’t collapse against the next bone in the wrist.
So usually a ligament reconstruction is added to that, and a classic operation is called an LRTI, which stands for ligament reconstruction and tendon into position, because some doctors will use a piece of tendon to put into the space created by the excised trapezium.
By and large, the operation’s a day care procedure that takes up to an hour, but most patients usually need either splinting or casting of their thumb for approximately six weeks after surgery to allow these ligaments to heal.
Once the cast is removed after your surgery for arthritis at the base of the thumb, the thumb is usually very stiff for many months. Some patients prefer to go to physiotherapy to get adequate help to regain their motion. Local Orthopedic Surgeon
The overwhelming majority of patients, however, obtain complete pain relief from their surgery. Some patients may notice a bit of stiffness, and some may notice a bit of pinch weakness ultimately, but it’s rarely a functional problem. Often seeing a local family physician or a physiotherapist in conjunction with a registered dietitian and athletic therapist is a great option to take control of this condition. Smart Food Now and exercise is also optominal for overall health.
If you think you may have arthritis at the base of the thumb, you should seek attention from your family physician, who may refer you to a specialist with expertise in hand surgery. Most of these surgeons are either plastic or orthopedic surgeons.
The primary symptom of thumb arthritis is pain, which is most commonly experienced at the base of the thumb. This pain can be exacerbated by activities that involve increased use of the joint, such as gripping, pinching, or grasping objects. The pain may develop gradually over time or be triggered by specific movements or actions.
In addition to pain, other symptoms associated with thumb arthritis include:
Swelling: The joint may become swollen or appear larger than usual due to inflammation.
Stiffness: The joint may feel stiff, making it difficult to move the thumb smoothly and comfortably.
Tenderness: The joint may be tender to the touch, causing discomfort even with slight pressure.
Thumb arthritis is typically a result of wear and tear on the joint over time, particularly in individuals who engage in repetitive or strenuous activities involving the thumb. It is more common in older adults, especially women. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing thumb arthritis, such as genetics, previous thumb injuries, and certain occupations or hobbies that involve repetitive thumb motions.
If you suspect you may have thumb arthritis, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as a rheumatologist or orthopedic specialist. They can perform a thorough evaluation, including a physical examination, medical history review, and possibly imaging tests, to diagnose the condition. Treatment options for thumb arthritis may include pain management techniques, lifestyle modifications, splinting, exercises, medications, or in severe cases, surgery. The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of the arthritis and individual patient factors.
Arthritis at the base of the thumb can have a gradual onset, although in some cases it may appear suddenly after a thumb injury. Patients may experience symptoms during pinching activities, and over time, the condition can worsen and become intolerable.
Treatment options for arthritis at the base of the thumb include the use of anti-inflammatory medications and injections into the affected joint. Bracing or splinting can also be beneficial, and a therapist can help create an appropriate brace for the thumb. If these measures do not provide sufficient relief, surgery may be recommended.
The most common surgical procedure for arthritis at the base of the thumb involves removing the trapezium bone, which is located at the bottom of the thumb metacarpal. Ligament reconstruction is often performed alongside the bone removal to support the thumb and prevent collapse against the adjacent bones in the wrist. This procedure, known as ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI), may involve using a piece of tendon to fill the space left by the excised trapezium.
After surgery, patients typically require splinting or casting of the thumb for approximately six weeks to allow the ligaments to heal. The thumb may be stiff for several months after the cast is removed, and some patients may choose to undergo physiotherapy to regain motion and flexibility.
In most cases, surgery provides complete pain relief, although some patients may experience mild stiffness or weakness. However, these issues rarely pose functional problems. If you suspect that you have arthritis at the base of the thumb, it is advisable to consult your family physician, who may refer you to a hand surgery specialist such as a plastic or orthopedic surgeon.