Revolutionising thumb arthritis treatment: The base thumb procedure

Written by: Mr Ali Shafighian
Published: | Updated: 29/04/2024
Edited by: Kate Forristal

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, affects millions worldwide, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility in joints. Among its numerous manifestations, osteoarthritis of the base thumb joint is particularly debilitating, impacting everyday tasks like gripping, pinching, and even writing. While treatments like medication, splints, and physical therapy. In his latest online article, Mr Ali Shafighian gives us an insight into the basic thumb treatment method - a game-changing approach bringing hope to those with severe thumb osteoarthritis.

Understanding osteoarthritis of the base thumb:

Before delving into the procedure, it's crucial to grasp the nature of osteoarthritis in the base thumb joint. This condition arises from the gradual breakdown of cartilage, the protective tissue cushioning the ends of bones within joints. As cartilage wears away, bones may rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. The base thumb joint, where the thumb meets the wrist, is particularly susceptible due to its frequent use in gripping and pinching motions.


Traditional treatments and their limitations:

Initial management of base thumb osteoarthritis typically involves conservative measures such as pain relievers, splints, and corticosteroid injections. While effective in early stages, these treatments may become less beneficial as the condition progresses. Surgical options, including joint fusion or joint replacement, were once the backbone for severe cases. However, these procedures often come with drawbacks such as reduced joint mobility, lengthy recovery times, and risks of complications.


The base thumb procedure:

The emergence of the base thumb procedure represents a paradigm shift in orthopaedic surgery. Unlike traditional approaches that aim to alleviate symptoms or restore joint function through fusion or replacement, this technique focuses on preserving joint mobility and function while addressing the underlying pathology. The procedure typically involves the following steps:


Assessment and diagnosis: Before proceeding with the base thumb procedure, thorough evaluation and imaging studies are conducted to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of joint damage.


Surgical access: The surgeon makes a small incision near the base of the thumb to access the affected joint.


Cartilage restoration: Specialised techniques, such as microfracture or cartilage grafting, may be employed to repair or regenerate damaged cartilage within the joint.


Stabilisation: If necessary, the joint may be stabilised using supportive materials or implants to promote healing and prevent further damage.


Rehabilitation: Following the procedure, a comprehensive rehabilitation program is initiated to optimise recovery, restore thumb function, and prevent complications.


Benefits of the base thumb procedure:

The base thumb procedure offers several distinct advantages over traditional surgical approaches:


Preservation of joint mobility: Unlike fusion or replacement surgeries, which may restrict thumb movement, the base thumb procedure aims to maintain joint mobility, allowing patients to perform daily activities with greater ease.


Reduced recovery time: Thanks to its minimally invasive nature, the base thumb procedure typically involves shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times compared to traditional surgeries.


Improved outcomes: Studies have shown promising outcomes with the base thumb procedure, including reduced pain, improved function, and high patient satisfaction rates.


Long-term relief: By addressing the underlying cause of osteoarthritis and promoting joint preservation, the base thumb procedure offers the potential for long-term symptom relief and improved quality of life.


Mr Ali Shafighian is an esteemed consultant orthopaedic hand and wrist surgeon. You can schedule an appointment with Mr Shafighian on his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Ali Shafighian
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Ali Shafighian is an esteemed consultant orthopaedic hand and wrist surgeon at Ramsay Health Care. He obtained a medical degree from Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School in 1997. He completed surgical training at University College, Stanmore, and further training in trauma and orthopaedic surgery in London.
He gained valuable experience during a fellowship at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, where he specialised in treating complex hand and upper limb disorders, including microvascular reattachment of severed fingers.
Since 2009, Mr Shafighian has been a consultant in hand and upper limb surgery in Surrey, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire. His practice focuses on conditions such as dupuytren’s disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve or tendon injuries, trigger digits, arthritis, and soft tissue lesions. He is skilled in both arthroscopic and open surgeries for conditions like impingement and rotator cuff tears, always prioritising patient preferences in treatment decisions.
Mr Shafighian is actively involved in research, particularly in hand and wrist arthritis treatments, and has published papers in this area. He maintains professional memberships with the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) and the British Society for Surgery of the Hand (BSSH).
His dedication to patient care, surgical expertise, and commitment to advancing orthopaedic knowledge make him a respected figure in the field of hand and upper limb surgery.

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