The base of the thumb or basilar joint is the most common joint Dr. Kim sees with arthritis. Cortisone injections are often helpful. A joint is where bones connect and move. Arthritis is thinning of the cartilage, which is the smooth covering of the joint. The body reacts to loss of the joint surface by forming bone spurs. Thumb arthritis is a genetic predisposition: like graying and thinning of the hair, it comes with age and it shows up earlier in some families. Unlike thinning of the hair, women tend to get thumb arthritis sooner than men do.
Patients with thumb arthritis report pain and weakness with pinching and grasping. For instance, opening jars, turning doorknobs or keys, and writing are often painful.
As with other aspects of aging, we adapt to thumb arthritis and treatment is often unnecessary. Options for treatment include non-surgical methods and surgery. Treatments without surgery range from ice/heat, pain medicines, splinting, and injections. Surgery consists of removing the joint either by removing a bone or connecting the bones together. There are options for moving one of your tendons to secure or cushion the bone. After surgery, a splint or cast is worn for several weeks.
Avoiding Fingertip Injuries
Importance of Certification
Dr. Kim is one of a few board certified hand surgeons in the area. In addition to doing 5 years of general surgery, 2 years of plastic surgery training , 1 year of research in wound healing, he also completed a 1 year hand surgical fellowship at the famous Kutz-Kleinert hand institute in Louisville, KY. Dr. Kim participated in the first US hand transplant in 1999. Dr. Kim has passed the intensive examinations to obtain (CAQH) board certification in hand surgery. He is also a member of the ASSH (American Society of Surgery of the Hand). He performs many of his hand surgeries with WALANT ( wide awake local anesthesia no tourniquet ) which makes the procedure and recovery fast and comfortable. LEARN MORE >>