Thumb Arthritis Treatment
Thumb arthritis can cause chronic discomfort and a limited range of motion in your hands. At first, stabilization, medications, and injections can dramatically reduce pain and inflammation. However, the condition is degenerative. As your soft tissues continue to wear away, your pain will be more pronounced. Eventually, the condition may be too severe for these conservative treatments. Therefore, Gregg A. Vagner, M.D., offers advanced surgery as part of his thumb arthritis treatment in Austin, TX. Through surgery, he can stabilize your joint or completely replace it. Either way, surgery has a high success rate. It can greatly improve your manual dexterity, reduce your discomfort, and even give you greater personal independence.
What Is Thumb Arthritis?
Thumb arthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the carpometacarpal joint at the base of the thumb. Over the years, constant hand movements can wear away the cartilage that cushions this joint. Your bones will rub together every time they move, often resulting in painful friction. Additionally, the ligaments can weaken, allowing your thumb joint to slip out of place.
If you are experiencing pronounced discomfort, or if injections no longer give you relief, you may benefit from surgery.
Thumb arthritis is a degenerative condition, and it is frequently the result of advanced age. Therefore, it most often occurs in senior patients. Nonetheless, it is becoming more common in younger individuals between the ages of 40 and 60. At any age, it is more likely to affect women than men. In addition, being overweight, having congenital defects, suffering past thumb injuries, and working in jobs that require repetitive hand movements can increase the risk of thumb arthritis.
The Symptoms of Thumb Arthritis
Thumb pain is by far the most common symptom of arthritis in this area. Often, discomfort will be most noticeable with certain movements, such as opening jars, holding books, or turning keys. In severe cases, the pain can make these motions virtually impossible. Other symptoms can include:
- Swelling in the base of your thumb
- A bony lump underneath your thumb
- Weakness in your hands
Thumb Arthritis Treatment with Dr. Vagner
Dr. Vagner will first conduct a physical exam, and he will take x-rays. In this way, he can diagnose thumb arthritis, and he can grade the condition based on its severity. Taking a conservative approach, he will typically begin with bracing and physical therapy. Stabilizing your joint can reduce inflammation. It can also help you learn new, healthier ways to hold your joint as you complete routine tasks. If this protocol does not provide sufficient relief, Dr. Vagner may recommend cortisone injections to ease inflammation and discomfort.
If you are experiencing pronounced discomfort, or if injections no longer give you relief, you may benefit from surgery. During an open surgery, Dr. Vagner will stabilize the joint with pins. You will need to wear a splint or cast for about five weeks. For another five weeks, you will wear a removable splint, and you will undergo regular physical therapy. As a last resort, Dr. Vagner may recommend arthroplasty, or joint replacement. In this case, he may replace the damaged joint with an implant. Alternatively, he may graft tissue, using your own tendon to connect the two sides of the joint. Collaborating with your physical therapist, he will monitor your recovery to help you regain as much normal hand movement as possible. Surgery is very successful, and it has dramatically relieved pain for a number of patients.
Contact Us to Achieve Lasting Pain Relief
If you are suffering from the symptoms of thumb arthritis, contact our office today. Dr. Vagner's care can reduce your chronic discomfort and give you greater dexterity.
"I am committed to using experience, along with the latest techniques and technologies, to help my patients achieve the full function, mobility, and comfort in their hand, wrist, and arm that they experienced prior to their injury."Dr. Gregg Vagner