Basilar Joint Arthritis

A joint is where bones connect and move.  Arthritis is thinning of the cartilage, which is the smooth covering of the joint.  The body reacts to loss of the joint surface by forming bone spurs (osteophytes).

Signs and Symptoms

Thumb arthritis is a genetic predisposition: like graying and thinning of the hair, it comes with age and it shows up earlier in some families.  Unlike thinning of the hair, women tend to get thumb arthritis sooner than men do.

Patients with thumb arthritis report pain and weakness with pinching and grasping.  For instance, opening jars, turning doorknobs or keys, and writing are often painful.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made by talking with you and examining you.  The appearance of the thumb can change with the development of bone spurs and stretching of soft tissues (ligaments).  A grinding sensation may also be present at the joint.  X-rays are not necessary to make the diagnosis, but they can help you understand the disease and they can help when surgery is being considered.

Treatment

As with other aspects of aging, we adapt to thumb arthritis and treatment is often unnecessary.  Options for treatment include non-surgical methods and surgery. Treatments without surgery range from ice/heat, pain medicines, splinting, and injections.
 



Surgery consists of removing the joint either by removing a bone or connecting the bones together.  There are options for moving one of your tendons to secure or cushion the bone, and each hand surgeon has a different opinion on whether this is helpful. After surgery, a splint or cast is worn for several weeks.


© American Society for Surgery of the Hand

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  • Monday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Tuesday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Wednesday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Thursday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Friday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

The Musculoskeletal Center

4 Centennial Drive, Suite 201 Peabody, MA 01960

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Mass General - North Shore

104 Endicott Street, Suite LL00 Danvers, MA 01923

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978.531.0800                  

Fax: 978-531-2929

At New England Orthopedic Specialists, patient health and well-being is our highest priority. In light of recent COVID-19 developments, patients should be assured that we employ the highest standards of safety and infection control protocols. We are continuously monitoring and following state and federal guidelines regarding avoiding potential exposure to the virus.

We are currently open and seeing patients at our location in Peabody. Based on the current recommendations, we are limiting patient visits to the office based on clinical needs. If you have an appointment and have not heard from us, you can plan on attending your appointment. However, if you are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms or may have had exposure to the virus through traveling or direct contact, please call us so that we can determine the best plan of action.

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