Thumb Carpometacarpal (CMC) Arthritis


Arthritis of the Thumb

The thumb CMC joint is the most common joint in the wrist/hand to develop arthritis. Symptoms include pain and swelling at the base of the thumb, stiffness, and sometimes weakness with pinching, grasping, or opening jars.


thumb x-ray

Typically, the diagnosis of thumb CMC arthritis can be made in the office by your provider during a routine exam of your hand and by obtaining an xray.


Nonsurgical Treatment

  • NSAIDS, voltaren gel, ice, rest 
  • Bracing with a splint to give support to the thumb
  • Steroid injections into the thumb joint to reduce inflammation and pain. These can be performed as often as necessary, we try to space out at least 3+ months apart.  

Surgical Treatment
If your symptoms do not respond to the above non-operative treatments, surgery is a great option to get rid of the pain, called a CMC arthroplasty. This is a day surgery that allows you to go home the same day. 

  • At the time of surgery, you will go into a bulky splint for one week, to allow for swelling
  • Weeks 1-6: You will go to a therapist for a custom spint and begin basic exercises—wear this custom splint at all times until the 6 week mark. Your other fingers will be free, and you can type, participate in self care, and drive.  
  • During weeks 6-12 you will only wear your splint during heavy lifting activities, such as moving heavy boxes