Before talking about basal thumb arthritis, let us consider the peculiarities of the thumb structure and functions. Unlike other fingers, the thumb consists only of two phalanges, but such structure does not prevent it from carrying out its main functions. This is the thumb that allows people to hold in hand any items. This finger is directly involved in all the grasping actions of the limbs. Thumb joint operations are controlled by large brain regions, so the thumb is as effective as the rest of four fingers put together (which are controlled by small brain regions).
As long as thumb knuckle is always very active and undergoes a variety of loads, thumb joint can get damaged and weaken. Inflammation can occur in any joint of the wrist and thumb area. In the majority of cases, inflammation affects small joints of the fingers. Thumb joint arthritis causes a lot of inconveniences and unbearable pain. The disease is accompanied by severe pain and local skin changes (redness, swelling), as well as the occurrence of fever in a patient. Rheumatoid arthritis in thumb joint is a very tricky disease. Sometimes, when a person is relatively healthy, an acute form of the disease suddenly outbreaks. This type of arthritis results in thinning of the articular cartilage, reshaping of ligaments and joint capsules. As a result of these changes, there occurs an irreversible deformation of the joints and chirodactylism.
Thumb Arthritis Causes
Rheumatoid arthritis in thumb joint is quite a widespread disease which may cause unbearable pain. In case one experiences severe pain in thumb for a considerable period of time, that may be one of the signs of arthritis in thumb. This type of rheumatoid arthritis usually affects females of various ages.
There are several thumb arthritis causes and factors contributing to the development the disease:
- The first place belongs to the infectious factor. Such bacteria as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus are considered to be the provoking agents of the disease called rheumatoid arthritis. The risk group includes people frequently suffering from cold-related diseases, ARVI, and influenza. Also, this form of inflammation of the joints may affect people sick with various sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and diabetes.
- The occurrence of the disease may be brought about by trauma, injuries, or joint surgery.
- Hereditary background. Science has not finally confirmed that one can be prone to the inflammation of the joints because of a hereditary factor. Still, abnormal structure of the joints can be traced in the blood relatives. In case there are relatives suffering from thumb joint arthritis in your family, you should better keep to preventive measures in order to avoid the disease.
- Hyperactivity of the immune system which stimulates the production of antibodies to its own connective tissue cells. That triggers the development of rheumatoid arthritis, a disease which is very difficult to treat.
- Overweight, smoking, hypothermia of the limbs and a weakened immune system are the factors that contribute greatly to the development of the disease.
Thumb Arthritis Symptoms
If we exclude traumatic causes and factors of unknown etiology, the first place among thumb arthritis causes belongs to rheumatoid arthritis (affection of the connective tissues).
Rheumatoid arthritis is peculiar for its symmetric affection of the joint. Thus, if the inflammation occurs in the phalanges of the right hand, it will for sure affect the fingers of the left hand.
Pain in thumb is usually most severe in the morning and is characterized by impaired movement and stiffness.
In the initial stages of the disease, severe pain can last for half an hour, but with the progression of the disease, painful feelings may last for 3-4 hours. In addition to pain, the affected joint and periarticular tissues become swollen, the skin of the affected area becomes red, the temperature rises in the area of inflammation.
To consider proper treatment options, one has to be totally aware of all thumb arthritis symptoms. The disease is a tricky one. It nowadays tends to affect even young people. According to the doctors, every year the disease affects younger and younger victims.
- The first and most alarming symptom is an increase in temperature. A person may appear perfectly healthy and a sharp increase of body temperature may become quite a surprise.
- A person may suffer from chills or even fever for several days.
- Fever may be accompanied by general weakness which would exacerbate an unpleasant situation as it is.
- Patients experience dizziness and loss of appetite.
- In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, one will soon feel severe pain and aches in the joints of hands. Pain may vary from weak and dull to sharp and cutting.
- Later, one should carefully look at one’s hands. Swelling and redness around the joint are a clear sign of thumb arthritis. If at the same time one feels a strong joint stiffness, it is obviously a symptom of arthritis of the joint. These symptoms will only increase from now on.
Most often, the disease first affects the thumb. Unless treated properly, arthritis will spread to other fingers.
The disease develops quite rapidly. If only you have any suspicions, you should immediately contact the experts for the diagnosis and treatment methods. If you missed the beginning of the disease and the disease is progressing, you will experience a lot of unpleasant surprises:
- the joint capsule gets inflamed and produces excessive joint oil;
- cartilage gets destroyed;
- the joint starts to deform;
- fingers lose their mobility and flexibility.
You should keep in mind that if you experience morning stiffness, constant or recurring pain or swelling, you should consult a professional. The reasons of the disease called thumb joint arthritis may be quite surprising.
Thumb Arthritis Treatment
The disease is studied in detail. There are special drugs that help to fight the disease effectively. In the case of a timely thumb arthritis treatment, one has high chances of a recovery from the disease. In case you consult a doctor after the occurrence of the first signs of the disease, you may keep yourself from pain and, moreover, from disability.
Here are some successful treatment options to deal with the disease:
- It is important to diagnose and start treating the disease at the earliest stages.
- To deal with infectious arthritis, doctors prescribe corticosteroids, antibiotics, and vaccines.
- For pain relief, doctors use analgesics. These are also used to remove inflammation.
- To stop the degenerative process, specialists prescribe cartilage protectors in order to restore cartilage. If there is no expected positive effect, specialists prescribe stronger antirheumatic products.
- Application of a splint is quite effective in the treatment process of the disease. A thumb support brace is a good idea to relieve tension in the joints. Splinting should be done for a limited period of time.
- A surgery is an option when medications fail to cure the disease.
Arthritis patients often experience irritation, tearfulness, and sleep disorder. To improve the condition, patients are often prescribed sedatives and sleeping pills. Anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic tinctures, creams, and ointments are widely used as well. One should take vitamins, preferably in the form of injections. This would not only reduce pain but will also improve patient’s nervous system.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in thumb joints gives a positive result when used in combination with physical therapy (iontophoresis, diadynamic therapy, high-frequency therapy, ultrasound, and magnetic therapy). In remission, the patient may benefit from mud wraps and hydrotherapy. Each patient should be approached individually.
However, it is not only conventional medicine that may provide a positive result. When it comes to home remedies, these are mainly ointments and compresses with mustard, moomiyo, and blue clay. One should not forget about decoctions and herbal infusions. In any case, one should only start any treatment after getting the right diagnosis and consulting a doctor.
There are several rules that patients with thumb arthritis should follow in order to make living with the disease easier:
- try to make the load on the thumb knuckle as minimal as possible;
- daily exercises for thumb arthritis should be carried out at a moderate intensity;
- one should unconditionally follow all the doctor’s prescriptions;
- one should have a good sleep;
- in the acute form of the disease, one should follow a strict diet (eat less sugar and salt; instead of them, eat a few cloves of garlic every day);
- go in for sports and make therapeutic exercises;
- strengthen the immune system;
- keep a healthy weight;
- quit smoking;
- avoid alcohol.