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:

  • 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.