Thumb based arthritis treatment

What is it?

Osteoarthritis in the thumb is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage covering the underlying bone. As wear progresses the cartilage is worn away causing bone to rub against bone. The joint normally allows you to pinch, pivot and swivel your thumb and when arthritis occurs this becomes very painful.

You may need treatment for thumb based arthritis if you have the following symptoms:

  • Pain at the base of your thumb
  • Decreased grip strength
  • Decreased range of movement causing difficulty to open jars, twist objects etc

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your thumb is working. You might need some additional tests:

  • X-ray
  • CT
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Treatments for thumb based arthritis include:


Corticosteroid injections can be used to help relieve swelling and pain caused by thumb based arthritis. They can be performed in the clinic without image guidance or with X-ray/ultrasound guidance.


If other treatments have been unsuccessful, you may require surgery to relieve pain. Options include:

  • Denervation – stopping nerves at the wrist from transmitting pain to the brain
  • Arthroscopy – keyhole surgery
  • Trapeziectomy – removing the arthritic bone
  • Joint fusion – fusing the two arthritic bone ends together
  • Joint replacement – artificial joint to replace the arthritic bone

Surgery generally takes two to three months to recover.

Contact Us

To contact us, please fill in the form below or call 0161 447 6888.

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