The most common joint of the hand to develop arthritis is at the base of the thumb. This joint is called the basilar joint of the thumb or the thumb CMC (carpometacarpal) joint.
This joint is important for the function of the thumb. When arthritis develops here it can cause pain at the base of the thumb and the “meaty” part of the palm (thenar eminence), the pain is worse with pinching and grasping, often the joint “slips out of place” to some degree, and sometimes the nerve in the wrist can get irritated and cause worse pain.
Osteoarthritis of the thumb basal joint is a very common and disabling condition. Arthroscopic assessment of the first carpometacarpal joint allows easy identification and classification of joint pathology with minimal morbidity. The arthritis can then be managed either arthroscopically or via an open procedure. Different procedures have been described to treat different stages of this disease.