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Rhizarthrosis or osteoarthritis of the thumb: The reason you can no longer open jars or turn handles

Rhizarthrosis or osteoarthritis of the thumb is the wear of the joint that joins the finger of the thumb of the hand with the wrist. Occurs frequently in people over 65 years.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs due to the wear of the joint cartilage that is the one that covers the joint, being common in the cervical and lumbar spine, shoulder, hip, knee and finger joints, such as the joint trapeziometacarpal, which is located on the thumb and joins the wrist.

In concrete joint degeneration in the area arises between the base of the first metacarpal and trapezius bone of the wrist and is what is known as rhizarthrosis.

Rheumatic diseases such as rhizarthrosis have a high prevalence. According to the Spanish Society of Rheumatology one in four people over 20 years of age suffers from one of these conditions. Among the most common are osteoarthritis, which it affects 10% of the population and is one of the main causes of chronic pain.

The most common cause of rhizarthrosis is degeneration or joint wear. It can also be secondary to other disorders such as arthritis rheumatoid or wrist trauma.

Causes

Osteoarthritis and rhizarthrosis can arise for genetic reasons, there are other causes more commons that can lead to thumb joint wear:

Aging: osteoarthritis is a disease that occurs mostly in people over 65 years of age. As over the years it accentuates the wear of the joints.

Sex: occurs with a high number of rheumatic diseases, rhizarthrosis is more common among women. This may be due to hormonal imbalance and menopause, that can accelerate joint wear.

Bad lifestyle habits: leading a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, smoking and not following a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, favor the appearance of osteoarthritis.

Repetition of movement: especially people who perform or have performed jobs in which they continuously performed the gripper movement, or manual jobs in which you need to use force with your hands, tend to present this degeneration.

Other diseases: people who have rheumatoid arthritis or tunnel syndrome carpal, are more prone to rhizarthrosis.

Consequences of rhizarthrosis

osteoarthritis of the hand

When thumb osteoarthritis continues to progress, the person will have difficulty perform the pincer movement that is to bring the thumb closer to the rest of the fingers and you will feel pain and stiffness, although it is not a malignant disease can affect quality of life of the patient by preventing him from performing certain daily actions.

Symptoms

There are different discomforts depending on the degree of affectation. In the early stages of the ailment may be nonexistent or very mild.

If there is pain, it occurs in the external area of ​​the thumb that limits the patient to pick up heavy objects. In addition, the pain may also exist a loss of strength in the hand that is manifested by the impossibility of opening buttons or jars, handles and bottles with water.

When osteoarthritis is very advanced, the base of the thumb is usually deformed and becomes difficult hold large objects by then, the joint is usually painless.

Diagnosis

The specialist will do a physical examination, an X-ray is necessary in some cases to know the degree of involvement of the joints.

Treatments

osteoarthritis of the thumb

Treatment when the condition is mild is conservative:

  • Apply cold to the joint
  • Contrast baths between hot and cold water
  • Splint or wrist brace to immobilize the joint
  • Short-term anti-inflammatory drugs

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