Dr. Steinmann explains how thumb arthritis differs from other arthritic conditions.
Thumb arthritis is different only in the sense that the thumb joint, the base of the basal joint of the thumb is a very differently designed joint. It’s what we call saddle joint that allows motion in many plans. If you look at your own thumb, you can see it moves all over the place, so that’s actually what separates us from the other animals that don’t have thumbs, like dogs and cats.
Our other four digits don’t have the same amount of motion and we think that that increased motion that the thumb has, it’s a trade off. It leads it to potential develop more arthritis as opposed to the other fingers. Having said that, you can get arthritis in other joints of the hand, the wrist joint probably being the next most common area and often that can be based on trauma.
But it’s interesting, as you get more distal in the fingers, as you go to the very end of the joint, we all have elderly friends that complaint about their quirked little fingers at the end, but very often that type of arthritis is not very painful for the patient.
About Dr. Steinmann, M.D.:
Dr. Scott P. Steinmann, M.D., is on orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Minnesota. Dr. Steinmann received his medical training from Cornell University Medical College in New York, completed his residency in orthopedics at New York Orthopedic Hospital and completed a fellowships focusing on the shoulder and hand surgery from Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine respectively.