Basal Joint Surgery

The Basal Joint (Carpometacarpal Joint) is located at the base of the thumb and it enables the thumb to move toward the palm. This type of thumb movement is used to twist, hold and grip objects between the thumb and fingers. When the basal joint is affected by arthritis, the cartilage that protects it wears away over time. The deterioration of cartilage causes bones to rub against each other and results in bone and joint damage. The friction created as a result of cartilage damage in this area causes swelling, pain, weakness and stiffness.

Basal joint arthritis (arthritis of the thumb) usually occurs as result of trauma or overuse. This joint is vulnerable to arthritis due to its frequent use. A person who has injured their carpometacarpal joint may potentially develop this condition later in life. This disorder is more commonly found in people over 40 years old. Women are more likely to develop basal joint arthritis than men.

Treatment for Basal Joint Arthritis

Non-surgical treatments for this disorder can include anti-inflammatory medication, ice and the user of a splint to limit movement if this area is in the early stages of arthritis. Cortisone injections might also be used to provide short term relief. The condition will continue to get worse over time and will probably require surgery to reduce or relieve symptoms.

Basal joint surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. The type of surgical procedure used to repair the affected joint will based on the patient’s needs. Joint fusion, a trapeziectomy and an osteotomy and joint replacement can all potentially be used to treat this disorder.

Joint replacement is the most common surgical procedure used to treat basal joint arthritis. During this procedure part or all of the damaged joint is removed and replaced with a man-made material or a tendon graft.

A hand surgeon should discuss the pros and cons of each procedure with a patient and help you decide which procedure best fits your needs.