You use your thumbs for everything, so doesn’t it makes sense to give them specialized care? These complex digits provide you with powerful grip and exceptional dexterity that would otherwise be impossible.
Can you imagine not being able to use your thumbs the way you do now? For some who suffer from osteoarthritis of the thumb joint, this has become a reality. Here’s what you need to know about your thumbs, the handiest, most important digits of the hand, and how you can avoid seriously damaging them.
How is Osteoarthritis of the Thumb Joint Different From Other Types of Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis of the thumb joint, also known as carpometacarpal joint disorder, or CMC arthritis, is a type of arthritis of the hand that irritates and destroys your thumb joints and the cushioning cartilage in between. Osteoarthritis of the thumb joint limits range of thumb motion, and could require hand surgery. CMC arthritis is painful and can be difficult to manage.
Do I Have Osteoarthritis of the Thumb Joint?
You could be living with CMC arthritis if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Thumb pain, particularly at the base of the thumb and when you are moving it
- Loss of thumb strength
- Deformity of the thumb
- Crepitus (a grinding noise when moving the thumb)
What Causes Thumb Joint Osteoarthritis?
The basal joint, just under the base of your thumb, allows for unique pivoting and swiveling motions.
Your thumbs have a significantly wider range of motion than your other fingers, which is what makes them so useful. However, this also makes them easy to overuse.
Overuse causes the basal joints to rub together, eroding the cartilage, which cushions and protects the bone joints. When the cushion is destroyed, those bones grind together, creating further inflammation and damage.
Surgical Options for Osteoarthritis of the Thumb Joint:
Though there are several conservative ways to manage your osteoarthritis, it’s a degenerative joint disease, meaning there is no cure, it will continue to get worse, and the damage it causes is irreversible. Treatments for osteoarthritis are only able to slow or stop destruction of the joints and cartilage. Osteoarthritis is permanent and will not heal over time.
Surgery becomes necessary when joints and cartilage are destroyed in such a way that the hand no longer functions properly, or even at all. Movement can be at least somewhat restored through one of four types of hand surgery for osteoarthritis of the thumb joint.
The following are the 4 hand surgeries that address osteoarthritis of the thumb joint:
- Trapeziectomy – A wrist bone connected to the thumb joint is removed
- Osteotomy – Bones in your joint are moved and aligned properly, or even shaved down
- Joint Fusion – The bones in the joint are fused to improve stability and reduce pain, however, the joint is no longer flexible and cannot move much at all. Certain tasks will become impossible
- Joint Replacement – Joint is replaced with an artificial joint.
Don’t wait until the damage from osteoarthritis of the thumb joint has progressed to the point of needing hand surgery. If you are experiencing pain, swelling, or other problems with your thumbs, start prevention now. The first step is making an appointment with a hand doctor. The doctors at the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas in Dallas and Houston have ample experience in treating damage from osteoarthritis, including proper diagnosis and comprehensive care.