Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of joints. There are several types of arthritis and the most common type is osteoarthritis or wear-and-tear arthritis. Arthritis affects various joints in the body and the arthritis in hand affects the joint at the base of the thumb. Arthritis may also affect the joints of other digits and the symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness, and malformation all of which interfere with use of the hand.
Arthritis is often seen in people aged over 40 years however may affect people of all ages. The most common cause is wear-and-tear, as you age you are more prone to develop arthritis. Also, traumatic injuries, fractures and joint dislocation make you more susceptible to develop arthritis. Certain types of arthritis are more common in women than men as in the thumb arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is also called as degenerative joint disease; this is the most common type of arthritis, which occurs often in older people. This disease affects cartilage, the tissue that cushions and protects the ends of bones in a joint. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage starts to wear away over time. In extreme cases, the cartilage can completely wear away, leaving nothing to protect the bones in a joint, causing bone-on-bone contact. Bones may also bulge, or stick out at the end of a joint, called a bone spur.
Osteoarthritis causes joint pain and can limit a person's normal range of motion (the ability to freely move and bend a joint). When severe, the joint may lose all movement, causing a person to become disabled. Disability most often happens when the disease affects the spine, Knees, and Hips.
Your doctor can usually make the diagnosis of thumb arthritis by examining the thumb. X-rays of the joint may be taken to know the severity of the disease and to determine any bone spurs or calcium deposits.
Nonsurgical treatment methods for relieving pain in an arthritic joint include activity modification, pain medications, and use of splints, and steroid injections. Surgery is usually considered if nonsurgical treatment fails to give relief.
Arthroplasty: In this procedure, your surgeon removes the affected joint and replaces it with an artificial implant. In patients with post-traumatic arthritis and osteoarthritis where the bone is hard and demand on the hand is moderate, new ceramic implants are used. These are not desirable to use for severely damaged or unstable joint. In patients with inflammatory arthritis where the bone is not strong enough and the demand on the hand is low, older silicone rubber joints are generally used. These can be used for more severe joint damage and instable joint.