Degenerative Arthritis & Osteoarthritis of the Hand

CMC Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) of the thumb, carpo-metacarpal joint (CMC), is a common problem, usually affecting middle-aged women. Arthritis is a condition where the smooth gliding surface (articular cartilage) of a joint becomes worn and degraded. This may ultimately result in a painful and stiff joint.

While it is primarily a “wear and tear” process, there are other factors that play a role in degenerative arthritis. These may include previous trauma or injury, repetitive stress over long periods of time, laxity or looseness of the joint secondary to hormones or just the aging process.

Those who suffer from arthritis of the thumb typically complain of pain or an aching feeling at the base of the thumb. These symptoms may be aggravated by the weather, grasping, pinching.  Symptoms may be so severe that it wakes you from sleep at night. Other symptoms include weakness, clumsiness or deformity of the thumb.

Surgical and non-surgical treatments can produce very positive results. The most appropriate treatment option can depend on each patient’s individual case.

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Meet the Doctor

After graduating from Loma Linda School of Medicine Dr. Unsell spent more than a decade serving at Loma Linda in several positions including the Assistant Professor of Orthopedics as well as the Assistant director of the Hand Fellowship Program. He has been involved with the training of 35 hand fellows, 15 of which now hold academic teaching positions.