BASAL JOINT SURGERY
What damages the basal joint?
Basal joint arthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the hand. Arthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage of a joint becomes damaged from inflammation and bone spurs. The wear and tear on the joint can damage the cartilage which leads to inflammation, causing more damage, and the formation of bone spurs. Bone spurs grind away at cartilage when the joint is used and eventually the cartilage is depleted, and the patient is left with a painful bone on bone joint.
What is the treatment for Basal joint arthritis?
The goal of treating arthritis is to slow the progression of the damage and help with pain relief. Resting the joint until the inflammation subsides along with over the counter use of NSAID pain relief is a good place to start at. If this fails to offer meaningful relief then a trip to an orthopedic specialist can help offer more significant treatments which include oral and injectable medicines to reduce the inflammation of the joint. Wet heat treatments can also help with the swelling and pain.
SURGICAL TREATMENT for Basal Joint Arthritis
When nonsurgical treatment is no longer effective for basal joint arthritis, surgery is an option. The operation can be performed on an outpatient basis, and several different procedures can be used. One option involves fusing the bones of the joint together. This, however, will limit movement. Another option is to remove part of the joint and reconstruct it using either a tendon graft or an artificial substance.
You and your physician will discuss the options and select the one that is best for you.
Recovery from Basal Joint Arthritis surgery
Recovery from surgery to treat basal joint arthritis is highly variable since there are multiple approaches to treating basal joint arthritis. Some approaches heal in a matter of weeks while others can span many months. There are pro’s and con’s to each approach so it is important to have a candid conversation with your orthopedic specialists about what your options are and what the outcomes and recoveries look like. Some procedures shorten the thumb, some are recovery intensive, some have high failure rates, and some reduce mobility. The best surgery is always no surgery, so if you have basal joint arthritis it is important to see a orthopedic hand surgeon early on to slow the progression of the disease for as long as possible to maintain a high quality of functionality of your thumb joint.