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Arthritis of the base of the thumb

Do you have pain when opening a jar? Turning a key or door knob? Writing? Using a zipper? If so, you may be experiencing some common symptoms of Arthritis of the thumb.

The most common symptom of Osteoarthritis is pain at the base of the thumb. This pain can intensify by activities that require pinching, such as opening jars, turning door knobs or keys, writing, etc. Depending on the severity, pain can also appear at rest or at night. In more severe cases, progressive destruction and mal-alignment of the joint occurs, and a bump develops at the base of the thumb as the metacarpal moves out of the saddle joint. The shift in the joint can cause limited motion and weakness, making pinching difficult. The joint above the CMC may compensate by loosening, causing it to bend further back. This is known as hyperextension.

How is the Diagnosis Made?

The diagnosis is made by a history and physical evaluation. Pain at the joint will occur from pressure and movement, such as twisting. A grinding sensation may also be present at the joint. X-rays are used to confirm the diagnosis, although symptom severity often does not correlate with x-ray findings.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options?

What many people don't realize is that there are many safe, effective options for same day treatment that requires no surgery. Arthritis in the thumb that is less severe will usually respond to medication, splinting, and limited cortisone injections to help alleviate pain. A hand therapist may also provide a variety of rigid and non-rigid splints which can be used while sleeping or during activities.

Surgery may be recommended for patients who have advanced disease or who fail non-surgical treatment.

For more information about simple, safe, and effective treatments for Arthritis of the thumb, or any other conditions of the hands or upper extremities, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sagini by calling 239-337-2003.

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