Surgery on arthritic thumb

Posted , 7 users are following.

My wife age 80 has suffered with arthritis for many years.  It is in many joints and in the last 2 years has got worse in both thumbs, making almost every task difficult.

Her GP has suggested surgery to scrape the bone and reduce the rubbing.

My understanding is that lack of cartilage is the problem. Has anyone any experience or knowledge of the GP's suggestion?  

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Don't know about thumbs but I have had 2 finger joint replacements, but my consultant tried several other things before we got that far. I would go see a hand specialist and get their opinion which the GP had do for you
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  • Posted

    I;d ask the gp to refer me to a hand surgeon. The gp wont know much about hand surgery at all. Hand Surgeons do stuff all the time.  Normally, on thumbs they remove the trapezium which stops the pain completely... the gp will refer you - just ask him to.   Then you can ask a guy who knows way more than the gp and put your mind at rest.
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  • Posted

    Hi Ron, so sorry to hear of your wife's ongoing issues with OA.  I too have it in both thumb joints and it really is very restricting and makes so many things impossible to do.  I haven't been offered any surgery or treatment for my thumbs but I have OA in one ankle due to a major accident some  years ago and I have had this type of surgery on the ankle a couple of times, they called it an arthroscopy and it involved a form of keyhole surgery where they made a couple of incisions either side of the joint and scraped off theexcess of bone that had formed because the lack of cartilage meant the bone was rubbing on bone and calcifying, producing a sort of spur.  It was very effective.  Before having it done the first time I had almost no flex in my ankle/foot and lots of pain, afterwards the joint moved much more freely and was a great deal less painfull.  It's seizing up again and really painful presently so its probably furring up again. I hope they can do the same thing again as it was a godsend.  It's very minor surgery so usually not done under general anaesthetic and the recovery time was fast the second time (the first time they removed some metal work I had in there and the surgery was a bit more involved, with infection in the incisions) the second time was only keyhole and just tiny marks which healed very fast.
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  • Posted

    I've got thumb arthritis, too and know how painful and restricting it can be.  However, I've had steroid injections into my thumb joints, which has worked well for me.  The only downside is that the injection is quite painful and the pain relief only lasts for a limited amount of time - a few months usually.  I think you are allowed three injections in a year.  I'm off to the hospital this Wednesday to have more injections!

    However, I agree with others that it's a good idea to see a hand specialist, who can give you all the information you and your wife need.

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    • Posted

      Hi , I have osteoarthritis of the thumb joint in both hands. I have had cortisone injection in my right thumb and yes is extremely painful for 30 seconds but it did give me relief for about three months. For some reason it relieved the pain in my left thumb as well. 

      I am coping with strong painkillers but I'm not sure if it is a good idea to to take strong painkillers indefinitely. 

      I have seen a hand surgeon and he thinks that surgery will get rid of the pain but I am worried about the long recovery time...6 months at least. 

      I'm 70 but extremely active. I still work full time in my business and am a keen skier and hiker. 

      I would love love some advice regarding whether the surgery is worth it in the end or should I battle on with painkillers.

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  • Posted

    The formation of bone and cartilage is controlled by the hormone estrogen. In females there are two estrogen receptors in the bone cells. In males there is one estrogen receptor and one androgen receptor. Get your doc to give you 50microgm patches. These gradually release estrogen intp the blood stream. It willtake about 8 weeks before their effect becomes noticeable
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    • Posted

      Let me share my experiences with surgery albeit mine have been finger joint replacements. Would I do it again, YES, as I have now had it done on 2 fingers.  Why, because I am now pain free and I have more movement than before. I am extremly active and not being able to do things for a couple of months has been a problem but its worth it for the long term pain relief.

      WIth regards to Estrogen patches I would take care here. I had my first joint replacement done when I was not on patches and I knew when it was time because it was so painful. I am now on patches and this time I only went to the surgeon because the finger was barely moving, I didn't have any pain. Now I am wondering if the estrogen was helping to mask the pain.

      Was the lack of pain a problem well a big yes. Because I left it so long, the surgeon couldn't use the joint he wanted to which is much more suitable for my active lifestyle, so with this new joint I have to be a bit more careful.

      Go for the surgery, a few months out of action has to be better than YEARS of pain.

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