Rhizarthrosis, also known as basal thumb arthritis, is a common condition characterized by pain, weakness, and limited mobility at the base of the thumb. This degenerative joint disorder primarily affects women, with symptoms often appearing around 40. The impact of rhizarthrosis can be significant, leading to difficulty gripping objects and performing daily tasks.

We will delve into this topic with a medical expert specializing in hand surgery to gain further insights.

What is Rhizarthrosis?

Rhizarthrosis is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the joint between the first metacarpal bone and one of the carpal bones, called the trapezium. The condition results in pain and functional impairment in the thumb.

Causes of Rhizarthrosis

The development of rhizarthrosis is typically associated with the natural aging process and wear and tear of the cartilage between the first metacarpal and the trapezium. Over time, the cartilage gradually deteriorates, leading to friction between the joint surfaces. This friction triggers inflammation, resulting in pain, even at rest.

Symptoms of Rhizarthrosis

Common symptoms of rhizarthrosis include:

  • Deformity of the thumb
  • Pain at the base of the thumb during activities such as opening jars
  • Difficulty with thumb movement
  • Decreased grip strength between the thumb and index finger

Treatment Options for Rhizarthrosis

When managing rhizarthrosis, the following treatment options may be considered:

  • Joint economy: Identifying specific gestures and modifications in daily activities that reduce joint stress and minimize pain. For example, using assistive devices like a can opener or choosing larger pens can help.
  • Bracing: This involves wearing a custom-made brace at night and using a functional brace during the day to provide pain relief, support, and promote joint longevity.
  • Physical therapy: Engaging in targeted exercises improves thumb mobility, strengthens surrounding muscles, and enhances overall hand function.

Surgical Intervention for Rhizarthrosis

Surgical intervention may be recommended when conservative treatments fail to provide sufficient relief. Surgery typically involves suspension arthroplasty to alleviate pain and restore thumb function. After surgery, a period of immobilization is followed by a rehabilitation program to facilitate recovery and regain hand functionality.

It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional specializing in hand surgery to determine the most suitable treatment approach based on individual circumstances and symptoms.