Arthritis (Thumb)

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The thumb is a vital digit as it is responsible for 40 percent of hand function. The thumb’s primary functions consist of pinching, grasping and gripping, and it is necessary for activities like writing, texting and buttoning pants.


Motion and strength in the thumb are necessary for everyday living and over time the thumb can suffer from symptoms of arthritis, which is inflammation around joints. There are several forms of arthritis that affect the thumb with the most common being basal joint arthritis. Arthritis is caused by degeneration of the joint cartilage, and the term “basal” is simply referencing the base of the thumb.

Arthritis of the thumb is most often due to normal wear and tear that comes with aging, more specifically when the cartilage begins to deteriorate at the base of the thumb joint. The cartilage becomes thinner creating direct contact between the bony surfaces which causes friction. When this occurs the joints begin to feel pain, swell and grow progressively weak; making normal activities increasingly difficult.

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