What is the basal joint? The basal joint is located at the base of the thumb, and allows you to move the thumb toward the palm of your hand. This joint can be weakened due to illness, injury, or repetitive use. These injuries can cause: • Weakness in the ligaments (tough tissue) that attach bone to bone • Wearing away of the slick cushion of cartilage that allows bone to move against each other • Pain when grasping or holding items or inability to maintain a hold on something The most common type of basal joint surgery is called an arthroplasty. Arthroplasty is a procedure to remove the damaged part of a joint and replace them with artificial (man-made) parts or with your own soft tissues. Arthroplasty may be recommended when other medical treatments no longer relieve joint pain and disability. These treatments include: • Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as steroids • Pain medicines, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen • Limiting painful activities • Physical therapy After arthroplasty, patients usually have improvement in their joint pain, improved ability to perform activities, and better quality of life. Surgical options that may be considered include: • Ligament reconstruction. Damaged ligaments are taken out and replaced with a piece of tendon. • Ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI). A small bone in the wrist (trapezium) is removed and replaced with a piece of tendon. • Hematoma and distraction arthroplasty. The trapezium is removed and replaced with a piece of wire that fixes the thumb in place. The wire is taken out a few weeks later after the joint heals. • Fusion (arthrodesis). The trapezium and the lower thumb bone (metacarpal) are reshaped and joined together with a pin or screw. The pin holds the thumb bone in place while the joint fuses (grows together). There are pros and cons with each of these surgeries. Talk with your doctor to see which one might be the best fit for you. What are the benefits? The potential benefits of basal joint surgery include less or no pain, and better grip and function. This may allow you to cut back on or stop taking certain medicines, perform better at work, and have a better quality of life overall. Please Click Here To Learn More About Dr. Henry Backe’s approach to Basal Joint Surgery.

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