Basal Joint Osteoarthritis: Surgery as a Viable Solution for Hand Pain

Basal Joint Osteoarthritis: Surgery as a Viable Solution for Hand Pain

Are you living with the debilitating pain caused by basal joint osteoarthritis? Do daily tasks like gripping a cup or turning a key become a struggle because your thumb joint just won’t cooperate? For many, these challenges can significantly impact their quality of life and lead them to consider a surgical solution.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the nuances of basal joint osteoarthritis surgery, helping you gain a clear understanding of the procedure, its impact, and how it might be the vital step towards a pain-free life.

Understanding Basal Joint Osteoarthritis

Basal joint osteoarthritis, also known as thumb arthritis, is a chronic and progressive condition that affects the basal joint at the base of the thumb. This joint, also called the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint, allows you to pivot and swivel your thumb – an action critical to many everyday tasks. Osteoarthritis at this joint leads to cartilage loss, pain, and sometimes deformity.

The pain from basal joint osteoarthritis can be excruciating, often aggravated by activities that involve pinching, grasping, or lifting. As the condition advances, the joint can become noticeably swollen and, in severe cases, lose strength and mobility, drastically impacting the patient’s functionality.

About the Surgical Process

When conservative treatments like splinting, steroid injections, and medication have ceased to provide relief, surgical intervention may be the next step. Basal joint osteoarthritis surgery, often referred to as CMC arthroplasty or trapeziectomy, is a common procedure. It involves removing a small bone called the trapezium from the thumb’s base and using either a tendon graft or joint implant to stabilize the joint.

The surgery is typically performed under local anesthetic with sedation or general anesthesia. An incision is made at the base of the thumb, and the surgeon carefully removes the trapezium. Following this, the surgeon will reconstruct the joint using one of the stabilization methods, tailored to the patient’s unique needs.

Invading the Invasive Myths

There is a common misconception that hand surgery, especially that on the thumb, is incredibly invasive and accompanied by extensive recovery periods. While there is no denying that it is invasive, advancements in surgical techniques and technology have significantly reduced the invasiveness of this procedure, leading to faster recovery times and improved outcomes.

Modern basal joint surgeries are often performed on an outpatient basis, meaning patients can return home the same day. Minimally invasive approaches are also increasingly common, allowing for smaller incisions, less tissue disruption, and generally less postoperative pain.

The Right Time for Surgery

Determining when it is the right time for surgery is a personal decision that should be made with the guidance of a specialized hand surgeon. In general, surgery is considered when:

  • Pain has become unmanageable and interferes with daily activities.
  • Conservative treatments have provided little or no relief.
  • There are signs of significant joint degeneration, which can cause joint instability or bone-on-bone contact.

Your hand specialist will assess your condition and discuss with you whether surgery is a viable option. They will also help you understand the expected outcomes and risks associated with the procedure.

The Road to Recovery

Post-surgery, patients can expect a recovery timeline that involves hand therapy to regain strength and mobility. Hand therapists will guide you through exercises aimed at rehabilitating the thumb to allow for a return to normal activities. As with any surgery, there will be some downtime, and it is crucial to follow your surgeon and therapist’s instructions diligently.

The immediate weeks after surgery involve a degree of immobilization for the thumb to heal correctly, but after this period, therapy becomes an essential part of the recovery process. Most patients can expect a gradual improvement in their thumb function, with significant results becoming apparent around the 3-month post-op mark.

POSMC: Your Partner in Hand Health

At POSMC, we understand the impact that hand pain can have on your life. Our Hand and Wrist Clinic specializes in advanced treatments for a range of hand conditions, including basal joint osteoarthritis. Our team of orthopedic surgeons, therapy specialists, and patient care coordinators is dedicated to providing comprehensive care at every stage of your treatment.

With a patient-centric approach and a commitment to excellence, we offer state-of-the-art treatments combined with a compassionate touch. We are with you from the diagnosis to the recovery, to ensure you experience a smooth surgical journey with lasting relief from your hand pain.

For more information on our approach to basal joint osteoarthritis or to schedule a consultation, visit our Hand and Wrist Clinic. Take the first step towards regaining the strength in your hands and the ease in your life that you deserve.

Call POSMC today!

To schedule an appointment with one our specialists, contact our scheduling department at 972-250-5700 or request an appointment online.

POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!

Dr. Michelle Zeidan

Elbow, Hand and Wrist
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Dr. Thanh Le

Elbow, Hand and Wrist
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Dr. Earl R. Lund

Shoulder, Elbow, Hand and Wrist
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