Thumb arthritis, or basal joint arthritis, is the most common type of osteoarthritis that affects the hand, according to Mayo Clinic. It results from the wear and tear of the cushioning cartilage on the connected edges of the bones forming the thumb joint, also called the carpometacarpal joint.
Individuals with thumb arthritis suffer intense pain that starts at the base of the thumb when gripping, grabbing, or pinching something between the thumb and forefinger, states Mayo Clinic. The pain also manifests when turning a doorknob or opening a bottle. As the disease progresses, pain eventually occurs even when the thumb is at rest.
Thumb arthritis may lead to a swollen thumb or a stiff, tender area at the base of the thumb, says Mayo Clinic. It can also reduce the hand’s strength, restrict movements and cause a protruding joint at the thumb’s base.
A person should see a medical professional if the thumb becomes swollen, stiff or painful for a long period, notes Mayo Clinic. Recommended treatments for thumb arthritis include home care, medications, splints and corticosteroid injections. Surgery is sometimes required to treat severe thumb arthritis. Arthritis sufferers who are taking arthritis medications should consult a doctor if they experience side effects such as nausea, stomach discomfort, constipation or drowsiness.