Arthritis of the thumb metacarpophalangeal joint can be debilitating whether in isolation or in conjunction with degenerative disease at the adjacent joints. Despite its crucial role in fluid and dexterous motion of the thumb axis, little is known about the isolated incidence of pathology at this joint. Etiologies include primary, posttraumatic, and inflammatory arthritis. For early, isolated degenerative disease, arthroscopic synovectomy has been shown to yield satisfactory results. For more advanced disease, fusion is the benchmark. The literature suggests that increased flexion angles may mitigate development of trapeziometacarpal arthritis. In case of advanced arthropathy of the entire thumb axis, arthroplasty is a viable option to reduce pain, preserve motion, and thus limit progression of adjacent joint disease. Special considerations should be given to the rheumatoid thumb because a select combination of treatments for each deformity is thought to best address the unique pathomechanics.
From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.
None of the following authors or any immediate family member has received anything of value from or has stock or stock options held in a commercial company or institution related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article: Dr. Earp, Dr. Cefalu, and Dr. Blazar.