Basal Joint Arthritis; Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The joints in the human body have a thin layer of cartilage lining between the bones, for their smooth and frictionless movement. Basal Joint Arthritis refers to a condition in which the cartilage in the thumb joint (at the base of the thumb) degenerates, causing the bones to rub against each other. The condition may occur due to excessive wear and tear of the joint cartilage or with age. This form of Arthritis is commonly seen in women above the age of forty years.


  • Women are more likely to develop Basal Arthritis
  • Past injuries such as fractures and dislocations may predispose a person to such problems
  • Overuse injuries
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Genetic factors such as Joint Ligament Laxity
  • Joint malformation
  • Obesity


  • Considerable pain may be felt in the joint and surrounding muscles
  • Burning sensation in the joint
  • Inability to use the thumb or hand comfortably to perform daily tasks such as opening a container or a bottle lid, turning a door knob etc.
  • Weakened grip
  • Inflammation and tenderness in the affected part
  • A hard bony lump may form at the base of the thumb


  • X-ray imaging may help to reveal bone spurs and cartilage damage
  • Analysis of the patient’s lifestyle, past medical records and symptoms reported
  • A detailed physical examination may be conducted by an orthopedic doctor to check for visible deformities and changes in joint structure
  • Pressure may be applied by moving the thumb in different directions to check if it causes pain or a grinding sensation


Basal Arthritis can be treated through conservative methods in the initial stages. In the advanced stages, surgical intervention may be recommended. The methods may include the following:

  • Prescription of anti-inflammatory medication and pain killers
  • Resting the affected joint and abstaining from any stress-causing activities
  • Application of ice packs at regular intervals
  • Splints may be used to lend support to the joint
  • Injecting cortisones into the affected area may provide immediate relief from the symptoms.
  • Arthroplasty- surgical removal of the damaged joint and replacing it with a bone graft or an artificial piece of bone.
  • Arthrodesis- permanent fusion of the bones of the joint
  • Osteotomy- surgical repositioning of the bones in the joint
  • Trapeziectomy- removal of the trapezium bone from the joint for more stability

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