Arthroscopic Thumb Arthritis Surgery

Arthroscopes are instruments used in the visualization of a joint. At HSST, our surgeons proudly offer arthroscopic CMC (carpometacarpal) basal joint surgery as a minimally invasive option for people with osteoarthritis of the thumb joint that hasn’t improved with time and other non-invasive treatment.

Osteoarthritis afflicts the thumb joint more than the others because of the many degrees of motion contributing to the wear-and-tear on the smooth cartilage of the basal joint (between the thumb and wrist). If joint mice (small bone fragments), bone spurs (bony protrusions), or bone-on-bone contact are painful enough, this surgery is recommended to improve the condition.

In the CMC/basal joint procedure, the arthroscope is inserted through a small incision at the base of the thumb. The instrument’s magnifying lenses and glass-coated fibers project concentrated light onto the joint. The surgeon can then use a tiny scalpel or laser to remove excess tissue and insert a synthetic cushion to replace cartilage that has worn through entirely.

Recovery is normally quick, with full function restored in 2-3 weeks.

If the thumb joint is so compromised that repair promises minimal relief, other surgical alternatives may be recommended, such as the following:

  • Fusion: The bones that make up the basal joint may be fused together. This limits mobility, but alleviates pain that may be otherwise intractable.
  • Reconstruction: Part of the joint may be removed and a tendon graft or synthetic substance utilized to reconstruct the joint.