Arthritis is common in the thumb. It normally causes pain at the base of the thumb where it meets the carpal bones and is called the Meta carpal phalangeal joint. Thumb arthritis is the more common in women and is usually seen after the age of 40. Prior trauma to this area can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis.
This joint is unique as it can swivel, pivot, and pinch. Therefore, motions that involve pinching or gripping would cause pain. As with all arthritis, pain and inflammation are the common symptoms. In advanced cases, strength would be lost, motion would be limited, and deformity of the effected are would be seen.
The diagnosis of thumb arthritis is usually made with a good history, physical by a doctor, and associated x-rays of the area. Treatment in the initial stages of this problem is symptomatic.
Medications such as Motrin (an anti-inflammatory) are usually prescribed. Rest, splinting, and ice are also commonly used. If initial treatment fails, steroid injections may be used to relieve pain and increase function. Since there is no cure for arthritis, this condition may worsen over time and surgery would be the ultimate treatment. There are many different techniques for surgery for this joint.