What Is Severe CMC Arthrosis?

23 August 2017

Arthritis affects millions of people in the UK, and as a result it has become a well-known condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. However, did you know that arthritis can manifest in a range of guises and cause varying degrees of debilitating pain and discomfort? Osteoarthritis, also known as arthrosis, is an incredibly common type of arthritis, and the thumb is one part of the body most likely to develop arthrosis.

When arthrosis affects the base of the thumb, this is known as carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthrosis. As the thumb constantly relies on the CMC joint for efficient functioning, such a condition can be not only painful, but also a hindrance to one's quality of life. Here at WristSupports.co.uk, we've compiled this concise guide to help you learn more about CMC joint arthrosis, how to recognise the symptoms, and what treatments may be available to you should you develop the condition.

What Is the CMC Joint?

There are five carpometacarpal, or CMC, joints in the wrist. They enable the efficient movement of bones in the hand, allowing hands to remain well articulated.

The role of the thumb CMC joint, which can also be referred to as the first CMC joint, the CMC-1 joint, or the trapeziometacarpal (TCM) joint, is paramount for enabling the gripping and pinching of the thumb with the fingers. When severe CMC joint arthrosis develops, such actions can become painful and even impossible.

What Are the Symptoms of Severe CMC Joint Arthrosis?

While a professional medical diagnosis should always be sought, the list of symptoms below may help you to recognise your condition to help you better understand it. 

  • Pain: One of the first signs you may notice when developing severe CMC joint arthrosis is a pain in the thumb side of the hand. This can fluctuate in intensity, and will increase as the condition becomes more severe.
  • Stiffness: The thumb may feel stiff and uncomfortable after long periods of rest, such as in the morning after a night of sleep.
  • Inflammation: You may find that the skin around the thumb joint becomes inflamed. This can be tender and hot to the touch.
  • Difficulty pinching: If you struggle to pinch the thumb against the forefinger, and also find it difficult to grasp onto objects, this can be a sign of severe CMC joint arthrosis.

How Do I Treat Severe CMC Joint Arthrosis?

As osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition, it cannot be cured, but with certain treatments you may be able to relieve the pain a little and better manage your condition. While your doctor or physiotherapist will advise the most suitable treatments for your condition, below is a list of some of the treatment options that may help relieve some of the symptoms of severe CMC joint arthrosis.

Surgical Procedures

When CMC joint arthrosis is severe, sometimes the only approach to relieving the symptoms is with surgery. This can include removing the arthritic bone or the joint, which can have a significant impact on the intensity of the pain. Following surgery, post-operative rehabilitation may need to take place to restore the functionality of your hand, and this is something about which your doctor or surgeon will advise.

Cortisone Injections

With a cortisone injection, a controlled amount of steroids are injected into the joint. Although this will not lessen the symptoms, it can help to relieve the pain to help you better manage your condition. It can take a few days for the injections to take effect.

Anti-Inflammatory Medicine

For an oral approach to pain reduction, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. These can help to reduce the severity of the inflamed area, which in turn can offer some respite from pain, thus helping to soothe the overall intensity and severity of the condition.

Cryotherapy Treatments

Cryotherapy treatments can be administered in a professional physiotherapy or rehabilitation clinic, and they can also be performed at home. This involves placing an ice pack over the inflamed area, resulting in a soothing of the tender and hot skin. This is likely to provide intermittent pain relief, but may be brief in its effect.

Wrist Supports and Stabilisation

Wearing a suitable wrist support can relieve pain while encouraging healing of the thumb following surgery. For pain relief, certain supports can compress the area to reduce the level of pain felt, and those with special thumb sections will stabilise or immobilise the thumb to prevent it from bending in any uncomfortable or awkward positions.

For post-operative care and treatment, wearing a wrist support that retains heat, thus encouraging blood flow to the area, can encourage a quickened rate of healing. This, alongside protecting the wrist and thumb from further damage, can significantly improve the overall effectiveness of the surgery.

To view our full range of wrist supports for severe CMC joint arthrosis, follow the button below.


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