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Thumb Osteoarthritis Specialist

Luke Nicholson, MD

Hand Surgeon located in Beverly Hills, CA & Downtown, Los Angeles, CA

Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint after years of wear-and-tear, but one it commonly affects is the thumb. If you have thumb osteoarthritis, expert hand surgeon Luke Nicholson, MD, can help. Dr. Nicholson has offices in Beverly Hills and at the Keck Medical Center in Downtown Los Angeles, California, where he delivers nonsurgical and minimally invasive surgical treatments for patients with thumb osteoarthritis. For advanced solutions to your chronic thumb pain, call Luke Nicholson MD or schedule a consultation using the online booking form today.

Thumb Osteoarthritis Q & A

What is thumb osteoarthritis?

Thumb osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of your joints that affects the base of your thumb. It affects more women than men and typically develops after the age of 40. Hand fractures and other injuries can hasten the development of thumb osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, resulting from the erosion of protective cartilage over the years. Without the smooth, slippery cartilage to protect them, the bones in your joints rub and catch on one another, creating friction and inflammation.

What are the symptoms of thumb osteoarthritis?

Thumb osteoarthritis can have a significant impact on your ability to pinch and grip, making your thumb weak, stiff, and chronically painful.

You might also experience:

  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Limited movement
  • Joint enlargement
  • A bony lump over the joint
  • Aching discomfort after using your thumb

A test Dr. Nicholson might carry out involves moving your thumb while gripping the joint firmly. If you feel pain or a gritty sensation or hear a grinding sound (known as crepitus), it means the bones are rubbing together, indicating thumb osteoarthritis. X-rays may also be necessary.

How is thumb osteoarthritis treated?

Mild, newly developed thumb osteoarthritis often responds well to nonsurgical treatment. You can try icing the joint for 5-15 minutes several times during the day and take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and inflammation.

A splint can also help by limiting joint movement, giving your thumb a chance to heal. If you're not getting relief from these treatments, which may be the case as the disease progresses, Dr. Nicholson can inject your thumb with steroid medication to reduce inflammation and pain.

Would I need surgery for thumb osteoarthritis?

If nonsurgical treatments aren’t effective, Dr. Nicholson might suggest surgery for your thumb osteoarthritis. Surgical options include:

Joint fusion

Fusion provides stability by joining the bones in the thumb joint together, but it does limit your range of motion.

Joint reconstruction

Reconstruction involves Dr. Nicholson removing part of the thumb joint and using a tendon graft (from your body or a donor) or artificial material to rebuild the joint.

After surgery, you wear a cast for 4-8 weeks, and then follow a program of physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.

Get the most advanced treatments available for your thumb osteoarthritis by calling the office of Luke Nicholson MD today or booking an appointment online.