Thumb CMC Joint Arthritis
What is it?
Thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint osteoarthritis is wear and tear that develops at the base of the thumb
What causes it?
The thumb CMC joint, is prone to developing arthritis due to its particular morphology, natural laxity, and the increased stresses the joint sees with daily use.
What are the symptoms?
Pain, located anywhere along the base of the thumb, is the hallmark of thumb CMC osteoarthritis. The list of activities that that bring on or worsen the pain is long and includes pinching, gripping, turning keys, opening jars, writing, and extreme positions. With advanced arthritis, a bony bump at the base of the thumb can develop.
How is it diagnosed?
Physical examination will elicit pain with palpation at the base of the thumb and with compression or grinding of the joint. X-rays will show loss of cartilage, bone spurs, and other changes.
How is it treated?
The goals of treatment are to decrease pain and improve function. Conservative treatment can accomplish this through the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, activity modification, splinting, steroid injections, and therapy. If conservative measures do not provide satisfactory achievement of those goals, then surgery is indicated. Several surgical options are available depending on the severity of degenerative changes.
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