Treating Thumb Arthritis

Posted on 05-26-2024 in Hand by Dr. Steven Kronlage

Thumb arthritis is degeneration of the joint at the base of the thumb metacarpal. It usually is the trapezium/metacarpal joint (TMC) but can be the joint below as well. This is where the thumb meets the wrist. It is much more common in women and can be related to loose ligaments.

When bracing and steroid injections no longer help, surgical treatment can be very successful. The patient makes the decision to operate. The trapezium is removed, and a tendon is usually placed in the space that once held the trapezium. The deformity is usually corrected at the time of surgery. If a patient has a significant “Z” deformity, they may require a fusion or a stabilization of the joint above is required.

After surgery, patients are seen every two weeks. They will usually go through a progression of smaller splints and increasing range of motion. At six weeks, normal activities are allowed. Grip strength can take longer to return to normal. Supervised hand therapy may be required for optimal function. Decisions on hand therapy are made postoperatively based on how well the hand and wrist are moving.

Visit Thumb Arthritis for additional information, including symptoms and diagnosis details.

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