Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


I had a skiing accident and sprained both my thumbs. It took a long time to heal. Now the doctor tells me I have basal joint arthritis. What does this mean exactly?


There is a joint at the base of the thumb called the basal joint or CMC (carpometacarpal) joint. This joint allows the thumb to swivel and pivot in order to touch the fingers, pinch, and pick up objects.

Osteoarthritis is fairly common in this joint because it gets used so much in daily activities. People get arthritis in this joint when they don't have arthritis anywhere else. Injuring the thumb puts the joint at increased risk for arthritis later.

Pain at the base of the thumb during pinching and gripping is common. Loss of motion can also occur. Many people have a weak pinch grip.

Charles Cassidy, MD, et al. Basal Joint Arthroplasty and Carpal Tunnel Release Through a Single Incision: An In Vitro Study. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. November 2004. Vol. 29A. No. 6. Pp. 1085-1088.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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