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Thumb Joint Pain and Diagnosis

The joint at the base of the thumb allows for the swivel and pivoting motions of our thumb which we take for granted.  The joint is referred to as the carpometacarpal joint (CMC) and is prone to arthritis and degeneration of the cartilage.

Arthritis of the Base of Thumb
Arthritis of the Base of Thumb

It is subjected to a large amount of stress as the thumb must be strong enough to counteract the force of four fingers put together.  Excessive wear on the joint can lead to disruption of the supporting ligaments with a displacement of the joint (subluxation).

Displacement of Thumb Joint
Displacement of Thumb Joint

Common symptoms of CMC arthritis include pain and swelling at the base of the thumb which are typically worse in the morning.

Diagnosis is made by physical examination and confirmed with plain x-rays.

Conservative Treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and splinting.  Surgical options include fusion of the joint or removal of the joint and insertion of a tendon or plastic spacer.  The disadvantage of surgery is loss of motion of the joint, extensive physical therapy, failure and the inherent risks associated with surgery and anesthesia.

Rather than cut the damaged joint out, patients now have the option of repairing the cartilage utilizing their own stem cells.  Regenexx is a simple needle-in, a needle-out procedure that allows patients to use their own mesenchymal stem cells to repair damaged cartilage without the risk of disease transmission or rejection.

Please review the testimonial of a patient who underwent Regenexx stem cell therapy for her thumb pain:


Learn how Interventional Orthopedics can help you avoid life-altering hand or wrist surgery by reading the cornerstone book, Orthopedics 2.0