How successful is surgery for base of thumb arthritis?


Quick Answer

Severe arthritis in the thumb may call for surgery, and most surgical procedures on the base of the thumb are successful, the Mayo Clinic states. Though recovery time is slow after thumb surgery, most people regain the use of their thumbs.

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Full Answer

Thumb arthritis can become severe, and if medications and splints cannot treat it, then doctors could recommend surgery. There are a few procedures that treat thumb arthritis. Arthrodesis, or joint fusion, fuses the bones in the arthritic joint. After the surgery, the joint can bear weight, but the thumb is no longer flexible, according to the Mayo Clinic. Trapeziectomy, in which the surgeon removes the trapezium bone in the thumb joint, may treat base of thumb arthritis better than other procedures, suggests the Arthritis Foundation.

However, most base-of-thumb procedures involve a long recovery period that may inhibit the patients mobility or require them to use caution when performing basic tasks. Patients typically wear a cast or splint for six weeks after the surgery, and the thumb may take up to six months to recover from the procedure. The assistance of physical therapists helps the recovery progression, the Mayo Clinic asserts. Most patients do eventually see improvement in their thumb flexibility.

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