Thumb osteoarthritis is caused by damage to the cartilage in the thumb joint which results in bone rubbing against bone. Like all forms of osteoarthritis it is due to wear and tear and is more common as we age.
Who is affected?
Osteoarthritis of the thumb is the most common form of hand arthritis. It can also affect the basal joint, which is the joint near the fleshy part of the thumb near the wrist.
Women are six times more likely than men to develop the condition and if you have arthritis in other joints, such as hips, elbows or knees, you are also more at risk. Previous fractures or injuries to the joint also increases the likelihood of developing it.
Symptoms of thumb osteoarthritis
We use our thumbs constantly and the joint allows a wide range of different movements, including pivoting, swivelling and pinching. Thumb osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition that can cause pain, swelling and loss of movement. If you are affected you might find it difficult to twist the lid off a jar or open a doorknob and you may experience an ache in your thumb after prolonged use. It can also result in deformity, such as a bony bump over the joint or an enlarged joint.
Non-surgical treatments for thumb osteoarthritis
If you have mild to moderate thumb arthritis you may be offered a range of non-surgical treatments, including anti-inflammatory medication, ice treatment and wearing a thumb splint to restrict the movement of the joint. However, as the condition worsens you may require surgery.
Thumb osteoarthritis surgery
Conventional surgical treatments include fusing the bones of the joint, which can alleviate pain but also restricts movement. Tendon grafts may also be used to reconstruct the joint.
However, an innovative new treatment for thumb osteoarthritis is Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant (SCI). This uses a proprietary hydrogel polymer device that mimics natural cartilage, having similar water content and compressive properties. The implant is used to replace damaged cartilage without removing healthy tissue.
In a trial of Cartiva SCI for thumb arthritis, a group of 50 patients was recruited across nine sites in the UK and Canada. An interim analysis of 44 patients after one year found the average pain reduction was 68%. This compared to published rates of 49% for ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition surgery. The patients who had undergone a Cartiva implant also reported significant improvements in hand strength, including grip, tip pinch and key pinch strength.
What to do if you have thumb arthritis?
If you are experiencing the symptoms of thumb osteoarthritis it is important to get a diagnosis. Once the condition has been diagnosed and its severity established, you can discuss a treatment plan with your orthopaedic surgeon. Normally, non-surgical methods will be tried first, but for more severe and debilitating osteoarthritis, you may need to undergo surgery.
Castle Orthopaedics can talk to you about the full range of treatment options for your condition, including Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant (SCI).
Our orthopaedic consultants each specialise in a particular area of orthopaedics, giving you added peace of mind that you are receiving expert medical advice and highly tailored treatment.
BMI The Park Hospital
Sherwood Lodge Drive Burntstump Country Park, Arnold NG5 8RX
Spire Nottingham Hospital
Tollerton Ln, Tollerton, Nottingham NG12 4GA