Even though thumb arthritis can be paralyzing, many non-surgical treatments can help ease pain and restore functionality. Icing the painful joint for at least five to 15 minutes multiple times a day can be helpful. The other treatments you can try by yourself include medications like acetaminophen, NSAIDs, heat pack, paraffin bath, and topical cream.
Splinting can also provide you with pain relief to a certain extent. You can use a soft splint to stabilize your thumb, as required during the daytime. You can also use hard plastic splints to help increase functionality and to alleviate pain.
If splints don’t give you pain relief even after a few months of use, the next stage of treatment generally involves steroid injections, which will be administered directly into the painful joint. In most cases, these injections will give you lasting relief.
When all the above nonsurgical treatments are no longer working, and if your pain is severe, surgery is the next option.
The most commonly prescribed surgery is “ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI).” This is considered to be the gold standard for the surgeries for basal joint arthritis.
This involves removal of your trapezium and replacing with a tendon substitute that will be taken from your forearm in order to stabilize your thumb. The surgery will be done on an outpatient basis. After surgery, the patient will be required to use a splint or a cast for up to six weeks.