What is Thumb Arthritis?
The human thumb is remarkable. Its’ unique saddle shaped joint allows us to oppose our thumb tip to the other 4 digits. This wondrous motion that is the reason behind so much of human evolution (fire, the wheel etc) and endeavours (texting) comes with a high price – a high shear rate on the cartilage and hence a high rate of osteoarthritic changes.
Osteoarthritis in the joints at the base of the thumb is one of the most common forms of arthritis in humans.
Who gets it Thumb Arthritis?
Thumb arthritis occurs in men and women typically over the age of 50. It is very common. It is the most common location for osteoarthritis in the human hand.
What is happening?
There are two basal thumb joints – The carpometacarpal joint CMCJ and the Scapho trapezio Trapezoid joint STTJ. You can get Osteoarthritis (OA) in either one of them or even at both simultaneously.
Signs & Symptoms
Fortunately, we treat people and not Xray’s. The x-rays do not correlate with your pain levels. You can have a bad x-ray with nil pain and vice versa. Dr Kirkham uses the x-rays not to decide if a patient needs treatment; but more to decide which of the 2 joints requires a treatment. And then which procedure fits you best.
What are the treatment options ?
- If it’s just the CMCJ, then a pyrocarbon resurfacing implant is my first preference (Pyrocardan)
- If it’s just the STTJ, then a pyrocarbon resurfacing implant is my first preference (stpi implant)
- If it’s both joints, then a trapeziectomy is my preference
If you are not sure which course of treatment is right for you, then get in touch and I will guide you through your Xray’s and the best treatment plan for you.
Aftercare post Thumb Arthritis Surgery ?
- With all these procedures, my usual aim postoperatively is to get people moving once they are comfortable. For some people this is within days for others it might take weeks.
- After a trapeziectomy it typically takes about 3-4 months to recover thumb function. The results are often pleasing.