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This type of arthritis can be treated in a number of ways. The patient's doctor will discuss all of the available basal joint arthritis treatment options with them. Treatment is focused on improving or maintaining joint movement, reducing pain, and minimizing disability. Patient's may use a combination of treatments to best control their symptoms and minimize damage. Non-surgical treatments are typically effective in the early stages, while surgery may be necessary for severe cases.
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Using a splint to limit the thumb and wrist's movement and to support the joint may be beneficial. Splints may help to rest the joint by encouraging proper positioning and reducing pain. Depending on the patient's individual needs, they may wear a splint during the night, or all day.
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Medications are a very common treatment method. Acetaminophen may be suggested to be taken on a regular basis to alleviate the patient's pain. Tylenol is the most common acetaminophen and this type of drug may have less side effects than other types used to treat this condition. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also commonly prescribed to relieve pain and decrease inflammation. There are risks associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and these are increased when the patient takes this type of drug at high doses as a long-term treatment. Possible side effects may include ringing in the ears, cardiovascular problems, liver and kidney damage, gastric ulcers, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may include:
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If a combination of using a splint and medications is not effective, injections may be necessary. These injections are a long-acting corticosteroid that is injected directly into the basal joint. These injections may help to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. These are only a temporary solution, however.
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If a patient does not respond to other basal joint arthritis treatments, surgery may be necessary. A procedure known as arthroscopy can be done to assess the condition of the joint, and make some repairs to it. However, other surgical treatments may be recommended by the patient's doctor. Possible surgical treatments may include:
- Osteotomy: This procedure involves correcting deformities through repositioning bones in the joint that is affected
- Joint replacement: This procedure involves replacing the basal joint with a metal or plastic prosthesis. A graft from one of the patient's tendons may also be used to replace the damaged joint
- Joint fusion: Also referred to as arthrodesis, this surgical procedure involves fusing the affected joints' bones. This may help to reduce pain and increase stability, but has no flexibility
- Trapeziectomy: This procedure involves removing the trapezium bone
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Hospital for Special Surgery. (2009). Basal Joint Arthritis: How Therapy Can Help. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from the Hospital for Special Surgery: http://www.hss.edu/conditions_basal-joint-arthritis-therapy.asp
MayoClinic.org. (2010). Thumb Arthritis. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MayoClinic.org: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/thumb-arthritis/DS00703