Causes And Risk Factors
Osteoarthritis is responsible for most arthritis cases in the thumb. This means that the issue stems from gradual cartilage degeneration.
Thumb arthritis usually occurs as part of the regular aging process, and it is more common in adults . People who have had fractures or other injuries to the thumb joint are also more likely to develop thumb arthritis.
Other factors that may increase the risk of thumb arthritis include:
examines the joint and assess:
- the current level of pain
- which movements make the pain worse
- whether there has been a prior injury
They may also perform simple tests, such as holding the joint while the person moves their thumb to test the range of motion. During this, the doctor may listen or feel for grinding sounds or sensations. These can indicate that the bones are rubbing together.
The doctor may also assess whether the joint is warmer than the surrounding tissue, tender, or enlarged.
If the doctor suspects arthritis, they may order an X-ray for a closer examination and to check for any calcium deposits, bone spurs, or areas of erosion. Also, an X-ray can show deterioration or loss of space between the bones.
If a person has pain at or around the base of a thumb, a doctor may also check for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Who Gets Arthritis In Their Hands
You are more likely to get arthritis in your hands if:
- Youre older. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen after age 50. Rheumatoid arthritis typically first appears between the age of 35 and 50.
- Youre a woman.
- Youre white.
- Youre overweight.
- Youve had previous injuries to your hand. If youve dislocated or broken any joints in your hands or fingers, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
- You’ve inherited genes that cause the development of arthritis.
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Surgery To Repair Or Replace The Joint
For those with thumb arthritis that does not respond to other treatments, your physician may recommend surgery to repair or replace the joint. There are a number of surgical options for treating thumb arthritis . After surgery, physical therapy will usually be recommended to aid in the recovery of function.
- Arthrodesis: This involves fusing the bones in the affected joint. This reduces pain and allows the joint to bear weight but limits its movement.
- Trapeziectomy: This involves removing one of the bones in the thumb joint and reconstructing the surrounding ligaments and tendons.
- Joint replacement: A third option is a joint replacement, in which the affected joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic joint.
Treatment For Thumb Arthritis
Osteoarthritis in the thumb is the most common form of arthritis that affects the hands. Osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. It can affect the basal joint, which is the joint near the wrist and the fleshy part of the thumb. This joint normally allows you to pinch, pivot, and swivel your thumb for hundreds of tasks every day.
In people with thumb arthritis, the cushion-like cartilage inside the joint breaks down over time. This causes the bone to rub against bone. Symptoms of thumb arthritis can become crippling, partly because the thumb is needed so often each day. Decreased grip strength, decreased range of motion, and swelling and pain throughout your hand may occur. You may find it difficult to open jars, twist open a doorknob, or even snap your fingers.
If you have arthritis in other joints like your knees, hips, or elbows, it may make thumb arthritis more likely. Women are more prone to thumb arthritis, especially those with very flexible or lax thumb ligaments. Statistically, women are more likely than men to develop thumb arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another type of arthritis that can develop in the basal joint.
Arthritis is different in each individual. There are a variety of treatments that may work for your particular symptoms.
Initial treatment options involve:
- steroid injections
If these methods do not relieve pain and improve function, the joint may need to be reconstructed with surgery.
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What Is Arthritis In Thumb Joints
One of the most painful and frustrating places to have arthritis is in the thumb. This can cause a lot of discomfort to the thumb joints, which we use for so many basic tasks every day .
Unfortunately, arthritis in thumb joints is a condition that affects around 10% of the population, which makes the thumb the second-most common part of the hand for arthritis to occur.
What Stands Out About Yale Medicines Approach To Thumb Arthritis
The physicians in Yale Medicines Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery Program specialize in evaluating and treating injuries and musculoskeletal disorders that affect your daily movements. We offer the latest technological advances and we are active in research that can lead to better treatments.
At Yale Medicine, we offer the complete range of care to patients, with occupational therapists on site at multiple locations and a new state-of-the-art outpatient surgery center at Yale New Haven Hospitals St. Raphael Campus, Dr. Luo says.
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What Are The Natural Ways In Treating Thumb Arthritis
1. Do range of motion movements.
Exercising your thumb by moving it through its full range of motion can help to progress the joints ability to move. You can consult your doctor or your therapist to show the definite practices that best suits you.
3. Apply heat or cold packs.
Application of heat or cold packs or even alternating can help to ease the pain and inflammation of the joints.
Heat pack can relieve the pain, reduce the stiffness of the joint and relax the stressed muscles. There are different types of heat that work much better for several people. Try to make use of hot packs or electric heating pads on the lowest temperature, wet through your hands including the wrists in bowl of lukewarm water or just take a hot bath or shower.
Cold packs can be useful in lessening the pain throughout the burst out or after performing stressful workout. Soak your hands in cool or cold water or just apply cold packs, it can be helpful in making the pain not intensely felt since it has a numbing effect.
Take extra precaution when making use of hot or cold pack to avoid burning up or get frostbite.
4. Make use of other joints when possible.
Avoid using the affected joint when possible like for example, open the door by pushing it with your shoulder or by pushing it with your one finger than grasping the doorknob. This will lessen the pressure on the affected joint caused by thumb arthritis.
6. Make use of splint
What Is The Treatment For Thumb Arthritis
There are both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options available for thumb arthritis.
In its early stages, thumb arthritis can be treated effectively with nonsurgical treatment that may include:
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to help reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Icing the joint for 5 to 15 minutes several times a day.
- Wearing a supportive splint during the day or overnight to limit the movement of your thumb and allow the joint to rest and heal.
Because thumb arthritis is a progressive, degenerative disease, the condition may worsen over time, requiring cortisone injections directly into the joint.
These injections can provide relief for several months however, they should not be repeated indefinitely.
If nonsurgical treatment options do not alleviate the symptoms of thumb arthritis, then surgery is an option. Surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis, and several different procedures can be used, including minimally invasive procedures. Your hand surgeon will discuss your options for surgery with you and help select the best one for you.
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Tips On What To Look For In A Thumb Arthritis Brace
While it really does depend on which part of your thumb is affected and the severity of your arthritis- in general you should look for a brace that supports or immobilizes the thumb joint that hurt.
|Looking for information on which thumb brace is right for you?|
You may also consider having two braces available. One for daytime use and one for nighttime use. For daytime use, a brace that supports and protects your hand and thumb is recommended and for nighttime use consider a brace that provides rest to calm your symptoms.
Here are few tips on what to look for in a thumb arthritis brace based on which thumb joints hurt:
What Are The Symptoms Of Basal Thumb Arthritis
In the early stages of Basal Thumb Arthritis, pain may be present with activities such as writing, opening a jar, or twisting a doorknob. There may be tenderness and swelling over the carpometacarpal joint. As the condition progresses, the pain may increase in intensity and duration. A bony prominence may form at the carpometacarpal joint as a result of osteophyte formation, swelling and resulting misalignment of the joint. In late stages of the disease, weakness of grip, and inability to abduct or extend the thumb away from the hand are classic findings. Swan neck deformity of the thumb is a late finding.
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Losing Your Grip From Arthritis
While your gender may predispose you to hand osteoarthritis, and in particular thumb arthritis, fractures or other injuries to the joint also may increase the likelihood of developing this condition. When osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to wear away, the shock and impact absorbing function of the cartilage is lost and the bones can rub against each other, causing stiffness and pain.
Symptoms that signal thumb arthritis include pain with activities that involve gripping or pinching, swelling and tenderness at the base of the thumb, and an aching discomfort after prolonged use. The joint also may appear enlarged or develop a bony prominence or bump over the joint, with limited motion.
An X-ray may show the severity of the osteoarthritis, but the x-ray findings do not necessarily correlate to the severity of symptoms, Dr. Shapiro says.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Thumb Arthritis Surgery
The length of your recovery period depends on the type of surgery you have. Generally, though, you can expect to wear a cast for 4 to 8 weeks after thumb arthritis surgery. Your doctor may also recommend a rehabilitation program that involves physical therapy to help you regain movement and strength in the hand. Again, depending on the type of surgery you have, it may take you several months to return to normal activities.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis In The Hands
Early symptoms include:
- Dull or burning joint pain, appearing hours or a day after increased use of your hands.
- Morning pain and stiffness in your hand.
- Swollen joints in your hand.
If you’ve had arthritis in your hand for some time:
- Symptoms are present more often.
- Pain may change from dull ache to sharp pain.
- Pain may wake you up at night.
- Pain may cause you to change the way you use your hand.
- Tissue surrounding your affected joint may become red and tender to the touch.
- Youll feel grating, grinding, cracking or clicking when bending your fingers.
- Your fingers cant fully open and close.
- Small bony nodules form on the middle joint of your fingers or at the top joints of your fingers .
- Your finger joints become large and deformed and abnormally bent, leaving your hands weak and less able to accomplish everyday tasks.
Understanding Basal Joint Arthritis
Osteoarthritis can cause debilitating pain and stiffness wherever it strikes. When you experience these symptoms in your thumb, its called basal joint arthritis. The condition, also called thumb arthritis, is just as common as knee arthritis and affects about 80% of women by age 80, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Basal joint arthritis affects your use of the carpometacarpal joint at the base of your thumb. This joint, also known as the basal joint, forms where your thumbs metacarpal bone and your wrists trapezium bone meet.
While basal joint arthritis affects a small area of your hand, it can make it difficult to perform everyday small motor tasks that involve the use of your thumb. These activities include writing, opening a jar, or turning a door handle.
Your first step in treating basal joint arthritis involves getting an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms. The skilled team of orthopedic surgeons at Arizona Center for Hand and Shoulder Surgery in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, provides expert diagnosis and treatment for basal joint arthritis. Their expertise in both surgical and non-surgical arthritis treatments helps patients relieve pain and restore function.
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What Are The Treatment Options For Thumb Arthritis
Non-surgical options for mild symptoms include:
- Splints and oral anti-inflammatories: Splints help stabilize the joint, while anti-inflammatories may decrease swelling and inflammation
- Cortisone Injection: Reduces swelling and inflammation in the joint, which then reduces pain and improves function
When non-surgical treatments are not helpful, a surgical procedure called Thumb CMC Arthroplasty may be recommended:
Frequently asked questions about Thumb CMC Arthroplasty include:
Could Your Thumb Pain Be Basal Joint Arthritis Heres How To Tell And What To Do About It
Just as wear and tear can occur in the joints in the knees and hips, cartilage in the hands can wear down over time. Over time, the cartilage at the base of the thumb could break down and become inflamed, starting to show signs of a condition called basal joint arthritis: arthritis of the thumb. The condition is painful and can make everyday activities harder. Recognizing and treating basal joint arthritis is the first step to helping ease the pain.
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What You Need To Know
- Arthritis is damage to the cartilage in joints. Shoulder arthritis occurs when the cartilage starts wearing down on the ball and/or socket sides of the shoulder joint.
- Symptoms of shoulder arthritis may include pain in the shoulder joint, stiffness and reduced range of motion.
- There are many nonoperative treatments for shoulder arthritis, including stretches, lifestyle modifications, application of ice or heat, and medication to control the pain.
- Surgical options, such as shoulder replacement, are available to treat shoulder arthritis if nonoperative treatments dont offer the desired relief.
What Is Shoulder Arthritis
Shoulder arthritis is damage to the cartilage inside the shoulder joint. The shoulder has two joints. Shoulder arthritis commonly refers to the bigger ball-and-socket joint named the glenohumeral joint after the bones it connects . The cartilage covers both the ball and the socket .
When the cartilage in the shoulder begins to break down on the surface and eventually in the deeper layers, its called shoulder arthritis. The second joint in the shoulder, the acromioclavicular or AC joint, can also develop arthritis known as AC joint arthritis.
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Lifestyle And Home Remedies
To ease pain and improve joint mobility, try to:
- Modify hand tools. Consider purchasing adaptive equipment such as jar openers, key turners and large zipper pulls designed for people with limited hand strength. Replace traditional door handles, which you must grasp with your thumb, with levers.
- Apply cold. Icing the joint for five to 15 minutes several times a day can help relieve swelling and pain.
- Apply heat. For some, heat may be more effective than cold in relieving pain.
Reducing Or Modifying Movement Of The Thumb
Some with thumb arthritis may experience a reduction of symptoms by resting their thumb regularly since the use of the thumb can aggravate damage and inflammation. Your physician may recommend wearing a supportive splint to reduce motion of the thumb and allow the joint to heal. Splints may be worn just at night or during the day and night. In addition, some may benefit from using adaptive equipment that is designed for people with limited hand strength to complete everyday activities.
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Who Gets Arthritis At The Base Of The Thumb
Arthritis at the base of the thumb is more common in women and usually starts after age 40. The cause of this form of arthritis is unknown in most cases. Past injuries to the joint, such as fractures or severe sprains, and generalized joint laxity may increase the chances of developing this form of arthritis at a younger age.
Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Joint Arthritis
The most common signs of basal joint arthritis usually involve thumb pain and stiffness. You may also experience the following symptoms:
- Pain applying mild force when turning a key in a lock or snapping your fingers
- Difficulty pinching or grasping an object firmly
- Visible swelling at the base of your thumb
- Misaligned thumb joint
- Enlarged thumb caused by bone spurs at the base of your thumb
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What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Nodules
Rheumatoid nodules are firm, noticeable lumps that form underneath the skin of some rheumatoid arthritis patients. They generally form on or near the base of the arthritic joints.
Typically, rheumatoid nodules appear in the following locations:
- Fingers and knuckles
- Backs of heels
Less commonly, nodules may form in the eyes, lungs and vocal cords but these represent severe cases.
Furthermore, rheumatoid nodules can vary in size and shape. Most nodules have a circular shape, however, some can be linear in shape as well. Also, they can range from small and pea-sized to as large as a walnut. When rheumatoid nodules form a cluster of tiny nodules, they are referred to as micro-nodules. This severe, less common case of micro-nodules generally occurs around the arthritic finger joints.
Though nodules are firm or even doughy to the touch and dont cause any feelings of tenderness, they can occasionally be painful. Pain typically occurs when flare-ups are active and the joints become inflamed such that it impacts the nodules and the area around them.
Rheumatoid nodules are capable of moving around but some form a connection with the tendons or tissue beneath the skin and become fixed.