Thumb CMC joint arthritis is the second most common location of arthritis in the hand. It is a common condition treated by hand specialists. It can lead to pain in the thumb area on gripping and pinching activities. It can be caused by family history, overuse, injury, and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The thumb CMC (or carpometacarpal) joint is also called the basal joint. It is the joint at the base of the thumb where the thumb-side of the hand meets the wrist. Thumb CMC arthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage between the 1st metacarpal and the trapezium wears down, and the bones of the joint begin to rub against each other.
Thumb CMC arthritis is diagnosed after thorough history and physical exam with your orthopedic provider. X-rays will also be taken to confirm the arthritis and evaluate the severity of the arthritis.
Surgery for thumb CMC arthritis is called thumb CMC arthroplasty or suspensionplasty. It is a common surgery performed by hand specialists. It involves removal of the trapezium bone at the base of the thumb and transferring a tendon into the space where the bone was removed to form a cushion between the thumb and the other bones of the hand.
Thumb CMC Arthroplasty is a very successful procedure that removes thumb pain and improves the strength of the hand. Complete recovery from surgery can take 3-6 months. Immediately after surgery, a brace or cast is needed for about 6 weeks. Afterwards, hand therapy is required to help regain range of motion and grip strength.
**Disclaimer: Treatment recommendations may vary depending on your true diagnosis. Always follow the recommendations of your orthopedic provider.