There are several different forms of arthritis. Specifically in the thumb joint, the most common type of arthritis in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also described as "wear and tear" arthritis. Because the thumb is constantly used for daily activities such as gripping, carrying, and opening objects, the joint of the base of the thumb, where it connects with the rest of the hand bones, is susceptible to a large amount of stress. As the joint is used, it wears out, causing inflammation and pain. The joint at the base of the thumb (also called the “basal joint”) is one of the joints most commonly affected by arthritis in the hand.
Osteoarthritis of the thumb is very common. Early symptoms such as pain at the base of the thumb that occurs with gripping or opening items can be initially treated using anti-inflammatory pain medications, hand therapy, and splinting. These interventions are often very successful in the early stages of thumb osteoarthritis. If splinting and medications fail to improve symptoms or pain and disability progresses, injections of a steroid medication can be helpful. If non-surgical treatment fails to improve symptoms, the surgeon may recommend a surgical procedure to eliminate or replace the arthritic joint. When necessary, Dr. Carlson offers a variety of surgical approaches tailored to each individual patient to improve pain and function in patients with thumb arthritis.
Depending on the type of surgical procedure recommended, full recovery time may range from 6 weeks to 6 months. In general, most patients undergoing surgical treatment will require some type of immobilization in a splint or a cast for a few weeks following surgery. After the incision is healed and the splint or cast is removed, hand therapy is usually recommended to restore motion and begin to rebuild the strength of the hand. Therapy may only be necessary for a few weeks, but in severe cases or revision surgery (i.e. a patient’s second or third surgery on the same joint), extended time in therapy may be needed to optimize the outcome.
At Active Orthopaedics, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a short-list of just some of the most popular plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.
"Dr. Carlson was courteous and practical, and ready to propose options. Despite the late Friday hour, he also spent extra time with me to discuss about other concerns."
"I'm walking better than I have in months after my knee surgery. I'd definitely see Dr. Kaplan again should the need arise."