Paul Nielsen, MD
December 9, 2019
What Are the Symptoms of Thumb Base Arthritis?
- Pain at the base of the thumb where it connects to the wrist
- Gripping and pinching with the thumb can be very painful
- Swelling, thumb deformity, and grinding can occur
What Causes Thumb Base Arthritis?
- Wear and tear with use of the thumb is the most common cause
- Trauma and injuries can also cause this arthritis
- The cartilage gliding surface in the joint wears away over time
- The joint becomes unstable and painful when attempting to use the thumb
- Arthritis often begins to affect people between 40 and 60 years old
- It usually becomes more severe over time
What Are the Treatment Options for Thumb Base Arthritis?
- NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or meloxicam can often reduce symptoms
- Braces can provide stability and relief while still allowing use of the thumb
- Steroid injections can reduce inflammation and pain
- Surgery is considered if nonoperative options no longer control symptoms
- The surgery involves removing the bone with worn out cartilage and bone spurs at the base of the thumb
- A tendon is used to create a soft cushion where the bone was removed
- Surgery is a same-day outpatient procedure
What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?
- Patients are in a splint holding the thumb still for the first two weeks after surgery
- You are able to move and use your other fingers immediately post-op
- A removable splint is used until 6 weeks after surgery
- Exercises to move and strengthen the thumb are started about 6 weeks after surgery
- Most patients get good pain relief and improved gripping strength
- Recurrence or persistent pain is uncommon
Interested in discussing your options for thumb arthritis further? Call 308-865-2570 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nielsen today. No referral required.
About the Author
Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand & upper extremity surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, NE.