Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder affecting the various joints in the body. Of the nearly hundred types of Arthritis, the most prevalent are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
The former is an autoimmune disorder and the joints usually affected are those of the hands and feet. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is an age-related degenerative disease leading to a destruction of the bones in the joints of hips, knees, and fingers.
In Osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the bones where they come together at the joint wears away with age; this causes friction between the bones as the joint moves and leads to eventual destruction of the joint. The damage to the joint might result in growth of new bone along the sides of the existing bone (bone spurs), which can produce noticeable lumps on the thumb joint.
Arthritis of the thumb is usually a case of Osteoarthritis. It is the basal joint of the thumb which is most commonly involved. It can severely impair the movement of the thumb and the various day to day activities which involve the use thumb.
- Intense activities that stress the thumb joint unduly
- Heredity or genetic predisposition
- Age: Thumb Arthritis is common in people over 40 years of age
- Gender: Women are more likely to be affected
- Lax ligaments of the thumb increase the risk of incidence
- Pre-existing arthritic conditions in other joints may make a person more susceptible to Thumb Arthritis
- Redness of the joint
- Lumpy presence at the joint
- Pain – particularly during movement
- Loss of strength in grip involving the thumb
- Restricted/impaired movement
- Physical Examination – which may disclose swelling, tenderness, lumpy structures, etc apart from any creaking sound indicating bone friction when the joint is moved
- X –Ray examination – it reveals the damage to the joint, reduction in joints pace, growth of bone spurs, etc
- Analysis of the patient’s medical history and past injuries to the joint is any
- Exercise the joint regularly
- Application of ice packs several times a day
- Anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed
- Administration of medicinal substances to increase the lubrication of joints
- Use of thumb splints to support the joint and restrict the movement of the joint while it heals
- Surgical manipulation and realignment of the bones in the joint (Osteotomy)
- Surgical removal of a wrist bone affecting the joint (Trapeziectomy)
- Surgical fusion of the affected bones (Arthrodesis) to eliminate the grinding of one bone against another
- Surgical reconstruction (Arthroplasty) of the joint using a graft
- Casts/Splints may be used for one to two months after any surgical intervention
- Post-surgical physiotherapy is mostly helpful