Basal Joint Osteoarthritis


Basal joint osteoarthritis is a degeneration of cartilage in the joints at the base of the thumb. This area is collectively called the basal joint and the main component of this structure is the thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint. This joint allows the thumb to pivot and swivel but can wear out early in life.


Basal joint osteoarthritis is caused by aging, repetitive motion or wear and tear that occurs during normal use of the hand. It typically results from weakness of the volar break ligament, which normally helps maintain joint stability. The thumb can begin to move abnormally and the joint becomes irritated or inflamed when this ligament weakens. When this occurs, the cartilage that lines the joint gradually degenerates, allowing the bone to rub directly against bone. As osteoarthritis worsens in the CMC joint, other articulations of the basal joint can become affected as well.


The most common symptom from basal joint osteoarthritis is pain at the base of thumb when gripping or pinching. A grinding sensation may be felt when the thumb is moved as it may become weak and stiff. As the condition worsens, the joint may become deformed and a bump can develop where the thumb meets the wrist.


Your doctor will order for x-rays to be taken of the wrist and hand to diagnose the condition. MRI or CT scans are usually not required.


Treatment options for basal joint osteoarthritis include cortisone injections, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, use of a splint or brace, exercise and modifications of daily activity. If the condition is severe, orthopedic surgery may be needed.

Osteoarthritis Care in Chicago

If you’re experiencing the painful symptoms of this basal joint condition, contact IBJI today for compassionate osteoarthritic hand care in Chicago. The Illinois Bone & Joint Institute provides the solutions you’ll need to restore your range of motion and free your body of pain.