By Dr. Kevin Knox, OSMS Hand Surgeon

Dr. Knox is seeing patients at our Fox Valley clinic in Neenah. Request an appointment with him here.

Have you been experiencing pain in the base of your thumbs?  Have these symptoms caused you to alter the way you do things, or possibly avoid certain activities altogether? Do you find it painful to open jars because of pain in your thumb?  Are you experiencing weakness in your hands as a result of these symptoms?  Has it progressed to a point where it is affecting your quality of life and your ability to work or enjoy your hobbies?

You might be experiencing what is called basal joint arthritis.  This very common condition often begins with people aged 50 years-old and up and tends to progress slowly over time.  While this condition does frequently occur in males, it is 4 to 5 times more common in women.  The pain associated with this type of arthritis can be quite significant and severely limiting.

Conservative treatment options include splinting and steroid injection into the joint.  A significant portion of patients will see longstanding, if not permanent improvement in symptoms following a course of splint immobilization. A steroid injection, while likely to provide significant relief of symptoms, will predictably have a more transient effect.  Typically, one or both options is attempted prior to considering surgery for this problem.

If conservative management does not provide adequate relief there is a highly effective surgical solution available, this surgery is called a basal joint arthroplasty.  In this procedure one of the arthritic bones of the basal joint is removed and a ligament reconstructed to hold the remaining bone in an appropriate position.  This surgery is technically simple, is a same day procedure, will provide permanent relief of symptoms and allows you to use your hand in the post-operative period in a restricted manner.

If these symptoms sound like what you or someone you know is experiencing, I welcome you to come see me to discuss your options and come up with the appropriate treatment plan.

Photo credits: CareUK, Journal of Hand Therapy, and Arthrex