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Thumb Arthritis Specialist

Schofield, Hand and Bright Orthopaedics

Orthopedic Surgeons located in Sarasota, FL

If your thumb develops arthritis, it can be chronically painful and make it difficult to use your hand properly. When thumb arthritis sets in, orthopaedic surgeon John Hand, MD, and Brian Schofield, MD, of Schofield, Hand and Bright Orthopaedics in Sarasota, Florida, can help. Dr. Hand and Dr. Schofield specialize in treating conditions affecting the hands and arms and offers a range of effective therapies for thumb arthritis. To benefit from his skills, call the office and schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.

Thumb Arthritis Q&A

What is thumb arthritis?

Thumb arthritis is a degenerative joint condition affecting the base of your thumb. Women are more likely to have thumb arthritis than men, and it typically develops after you reach age 40. If you injure your thumb severely, that can also encourage thumb arthritis to set in.

Thumb arthritis is most likely to be osteoarthritis, a common disease that often affects multiple joints. Osteoarthritis is a result of years of wear in the joints that means your bones lose their protective covering of cartilage.

Without protection, the bones in your joints create friction as they rub against each other, which causes inflammation and the typical symptoms of osteoarthritis.

What symptoms does thumb arthritis cause?

Symptoms of thumb arthritis are similar to those of osteoarthritis in other joints, namely:

  • Chronic pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Limited range of movement
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Joint enlargement or distortion
  • Development of bony lumps
  • Aching after using the joint

Thumb arthritis prevents you making pinching and gripping actions and may severely limit your hand’s function.

Pain and loss of use are also symptoms of De Quervain's tenosynovitis, a form of tendonitis that affects the thumb. However, if you move your thumb at the same time as holding the joint in place, it’s likely to cause crepitus (a grinding sound or sensation) and pain that's typical of arthritis.

To confirm the diagnosis, Dr. Hand might need to see X-rays of your thumb.

What treatments are available for thumb arthritis?

In the early stages when your symptoms are mild, thumb arthritis is likely to improve using conservative treatments such as:

  • Icing the joint for 5-15 minutes at a time
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication
  • Wearing a splint to limit joint movement
  • Steroid injections

If these treatments don't have the required effect, or what worked before ceases to relieve your symptoms, Dr. Hand might discuss surgical options, including joint fusion or reconstruction.

Joint fusion

Fusion surgery joins the bones in your thumb to relieve pain and provide joint stability. However, the fusion process does leave you with a more limited range of motion.

Joint reconstruction

To reconstruct your thumb, Dr. Hand removes part of your thumb joint and rebuilds it using a tendon graft. The graft may come from your body or a tissue donor, or Dr. Hand might use an artificial material.

After thumb arthritis surgery, your thumb is in a cast for 4-8 weeks. You need to undergo a physical therapy program to recover the strength in your thumb and improve your range of motion.

Find out which treatment option is best for your thumb arthritis by calling Schofield, Hand and Bright Orthopaedics today or booking an appointment online.