Arthritis is the wear and tear of the surface of joints. Normal, healthy joints are covered with cartilage, a very slippery surface that allows painless gliding and movement between bones. When cartilage begins to break down, the bones underneath begin to rub together, much like two pieces of stone rubbing together. This causes pain, stiffness, and loss of motion.
Although arthritis can occur almost anywhere in the hand & wrist, it is most commonly found at the base of the thumb. This is called carpometacarpal or "CMC" arthritis and classically causes pain while using keys, doorknobs, and opening jars. It also often causes pain at the end-joints at the tips of the fingers, causing the small painful "knobs" that some adults get as they age.
Standard treatments for hand & wrist arthritis include anti-inflammatory medications, icing, and sometimes bracing.
Advanced treatments for hand & wrist arthritis offered by Dr. Nelson include ultrasound-guided steroid injections and a variety of surgical procedures, depending on the location and severity of the arthritis.
For thumb CMC arthritis, Dr. Nelson utilizes the “Tightrope Suspensionplasty” technique, excising the painful bone and re-creating a comfortable sling for the base of the thumb. Very advanced arthritis in the hand and wrist sometimes requires fusion procedures, which eliminates motion at the painful joint and also eliminates pain.