Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Each of your hands has five bones, called metacarpals, between your wrist and your fingers.
At the base of your thumb, the first metacarpal forms a joint with a bone in your wrist, called the trapezium.
Smooth tissue, called cartilage, covers the ends of the bones in the joint.
Cartilage cushions the joint. It also allows your bones to move easily when you swivel, pivot, or grip things with your thumb.
Osteoarthritis of the thumb, also known as basal thumb arthritis, is a condition where the cartilage in this joint breaks down and wears away.
Without cartilage, your bones rub together, which can damage your joint.
Over time, bony growths, called bone spurs, can form in and around your joint.
You may have a higher risk for getting thumb osteoarthritis if:
you are female, you’ve had previous injury to the joint, such as a fracture, or you have an unstable, loose ligament in the joint.
Common symptoms of thumb osteoarthritis include:
bony bumps on the joint, joint pain and sewlling, and loss of joint motion and grip strength.
If you have questions about thumb osteoarthritis, talk to your healthcare provider.