Trapeziometacarpal arthritis (Rhizarthrosis)
What is it?
The trapeziometacarpal joint, located at the base of the thumb, is very important because its great freedom of movement allows the thumb to act in a highly specialised manner compared to the fingers, providing opposition and therefore grip and manipulation.
This great freedom of movement, however, makes the joint rather unstable and this, together with the fact that it is frequently used at any age, can lead to premature wear and tear followed by degeneration of the articular surface, progressive reduction in range of motion and local pain made worse by use.
In other words, trapeziometacarpal joint arthritis, also known as rhizoarthritis, develops in these cases.
Which are the symptoms?
- pain at the base of the thumb
- reduction of thumb movement
How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis is made by specialist examination and requires X-rays in standard hand projections.
How is it treated?
Conservative therapy, which is always suitable for the mildest cases, consists, as in all other forms of arthritis, of the use of analgesic anti-inflammatory drugs, manual and instrumental physiotherapy, and the use of splints. New treatments based on the introduction of stem cells from fatty tissue taken from the abdomen are now available for cases of early arthritis.
Surgery offers various treatment options, useful in more advanced cases and in those in which disabling symptoms do not improve with conservative therapy, and adaptable to different local and general patient conditions as well as different functional requirements.
The operation is performed under local anesthesia, does not usually require hospitalisation and requires 3 weeks of postoperative immobilisation followed by simple rehabilitation.
The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and does not require hospitalisation.
A rehabilitation program under the supervision of a hand therapist will be necessary after surgery.
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