Medical Library: Hand – Basal Joint Arthritis

Cartilage covers the ends of bones and allows them to move smoothly and painlessly. The cartilage wears out in Osteoarthritis (or degenerative arthritis) and this results in contact between the bones and may cause inflammation and stiffness. It frequently affects the joint at the base of the thumb called the basal joint or carpometacarpal (CMC) joint.  This joint allows for a wide range of motion. Arthritis of the basal joint occurs more often in women then men and is frequently described as a deep pain at the base of the thumb. Repeated gripping, twisting and pinching with thumb and fingers may make the pain worse. This may include opening jars, using a can opener, turning door knob or key in the ignition of the car and writing.

Hand therapy for less severe thumb arthritis includes an assessment of your daily activities and education in joint protection, recommendations for adaptive equipment, assess for splinting, and instruction pain management techniques and motion exercises for a home program. Splinting may include over-the-counter soft splint or a more rigid custom splint.

Post-operative hand therapy following surgical reconstruction includes custom splinting, pain management, techniques to control swelling, scar management after removal of sutures and specific protective motion exercises. Education continues with joint protection techniques. This new joint needs to last a life time!

Hand therapy is performed at our Certified Hand Center, located in Rockford.
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