Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions your bones at the joints. It allows bones to glide over one another. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down and wear away, making the bones rub together, often causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. In the hand, the base of the thumb is one of the most common joints to develop osteoarthritis. It is commonly seen in women over the age of 40. While the cause is unknown, genetics and previous injuries may predispose you to arthritis of the thumb.
- Pain at the base of the thumb
- Pain in activities that require pinching, such as opening doors, writing, or opening jars
- In severe cases, mal-alignment of the joint
- Limited motion and weakness
In less severe cases, conservative methods such as splinting, cortisone injections and arthritis medication may help relieve pain. Patients with severe arthritis that does not respond to treatment may be candidates for surgery. A consultation with your hand surgeon can help decide the best option for you.