Arthritic Pain

Q. I’ve been having pain and swelling at the base of my thumb and my doctor told me it’s due to arthritis. Can anything be done to help?

Arthritis at the base of the thumb (i.e., basal joint arthritis) is a very common problem, especially in women. It can occur as early as age 40, and patients often report that their first discomfort or pain came with heavy gripping. Over time, as the condition progresses, a patient may experience a constant dull pain that becomes sharp with motion. Treatment begins with avoiding activities that worsen symptoms. For those who continue to have pain, specific thumb braces, non-steroidal medications, and/or steroid injections may help. If the pain becomes severe and all other treatments have failed, surgery can provide much relief.

Robert Mastey, M.D.
Upper Extremity and
Microvascular Specialist

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