What is Basal Joint Surgery?
Basal joint pain from arthritis can make it painful to hold, twist, or grip objects between the thumb and forefingers. Basal joint surgery is a procedure used to treat this pain by removing and rebuilding the diseased basal joint.
Who needs Basal Joint Surgery?
The joints at the base of the thumb, where the wrist meets the thumb's metacarpal, are collectively called the basal joint. The main joint in this collection is called the thumb carpometacarpal joint, or CMC joint. The CMC joint, which we use when we hold, twist, or grip objects, allows for pivoting and swiveling movement of the thumb. When the cartilage in the basal joints wear out and degenerate, the painful condition created is called basal joint osteoarthritis.
What are the steps in Basal Joint Surgery?
Initial Incision Made
The surgeon makes an incision to access the basal joint, which is located at the area where the wrist meets the lower section of the thumb.
Removal of the Joint
The surgeon then cuts and clears away the lower portion of the thumb's metacarpal. The trapezium bone at the base of the thumb is also removed. This is done to remove the damaged joint in order to prepare for the next step.
Reshaping the Tendon
The surgeon then takes a section of tendon or graft, reshapes it into a bundle, and inserts it into the cleared joint area.
End of Procedure
Once the bundle is in place, the incisions are closed.
After the surgery, a cast will need to be worn for several weeks. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises to help you regain motion and strength after surgery. Once the healing process after the surgery is complete, the inserted graft material will cushion the new basal joint.