Botsford News Release
Farmington Hills, Mich. (December 28, 2009)---With winter in full swing, the cold weather may impact people who have arthritis at the base of the thumb. Arthritis at the base of the thumb is a common problem usually starting around age 40, is more common in women, and can be affected by activity. The cause of this arthritis is not always known, but it may be related to past injuries to the joint such as severe sprain or fracture.
Germaine Fritz, D.O., a Botsford Hospital hand and microvascular surgeon, says, “The most common symptoms of basal joint arthritis in the thumb is a deep, aching pain at the base of the thumb. Pain is usually worse with activities such as pinching and grasping, opening jars, turning doorknobs or keys, and writing. As the arthritis disease progresses, the patient may experience pain at rest and at night. This results in loss of pinch and grip strength, and in severe cases destruction and deformity in the joint occurs and swelling and a prominence or a bump develops at the base of the thumb.”
Thumb motion can become limited and the space between the thumb and index finger may become narrow making pinching activities more difficult. This may also cause the next joint to hyperextend to compensate for the deformity at the base of the thumb.
Dr. Fritz says, “Diagnosis is made through physical exam, history and x-rays confirming the diagnosis and demonstrating the severity of the destruction of the joint.” Nonsurgical treatment options are available including ice, pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, topical anti-inflammatory gel, splinting and Corticosteroid injections.
Dr. Fritz says, “For some, nonsurgical options work well. However, patients with advanced arthritis benefit most from surgical reconstruction to eliminate pain, enhance range of motion and improve the position of the thumb and function.” With surgery, the arthritic portion of the bone is removed and joint reconstruction is done. Hand exercises or therapy are usually done after the surgery resulting in an improved quality of life and function with reduction in pain.
If you would like to speak with a Botsford doctor about basal joint arthritis of the thumb and the best options for you, please contact Botsford’s HealthMatch at (877) 477-DOC1.
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