CMC Joint Arthritis

OPA treats a wide variety of upper extremity conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions.

What is CMC Joint Arthritis?

The thumb helps perform many simple, everyday grabbing and gripping tasks. Without proper thumb function, tasks like writing, eating, and texting become difficult. A common thumb condition is carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthritis or thumb arthritis. The carpal (wrist) and metacarpal (hand) bones form the CMC joint. Like all joints, the CMC joint is susceptible to arthritis, a condition that causes wear and tear of joint cartilage and bone.

The Most Common Types:

  • Degenerative Arthritis, also called Osteoarthritis, typically affects the fingers, causing pain in the joints furthest from the hand.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly called Inflammatory Arthritis autoimmune disease

Common Causes:

    • Pain and swelling
    • Stiffness and weakness
    • Decreased range of motion
    • Tenderness

Aging or injury can cause CMC joint arthritis. Receiving an early CMC joint arthritis diagnosis is important, as the disease is chronic—it can be managed but not cured.

Symptoms of CMC Joint Arthritis may include:

  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Swelling
  • Limited range of motion
  • Clicking, cracking, or grinding sounds on movement

When you arrive for your initial consultation, an Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) Upper Extremity Specialist will evaluate your areas of concern, discuss your symptoms, and develop a customized and comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. This evaluation is a necessary part of diagnosing your condition and providing the best possible care.

An Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) Hand Specialist diagnoses and treats CMC joint arthritis. A step-by-step approach is used:

  • A medical history review that includes checking for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis risk factors is obtained
  • A complete physical examination of the thumb, including strength and range of motion tests, is performed
  • Multiple view x-rays are ordered and reviewed to confirm the presence and determine the severity of arthritis

Once an official diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan is prescribed. Treatment plans decrease symptoms as quickly as possible.

Common Treatments:

A combination of nonsurgical treatment options treats mild to moderate CMC joint arthritis:

Temporarily immobilizes the thumb so inflammation, pain, and swelling can decrease.

Taken orally or applied topically to decrease inflammation and pain.

Physical Therapy
An OPA approved hand therapist can help you maintain your motion and function

Schedule Appointment with Our Hand | Wrist | Elbow Team


The OPA team includes Alaska’s leading specialists and offers some of the latest, most advanced treatment procedures available today.

OPA treats a wide variety of conditions and offers comprehensive treatment options — including many non-surgical solutions, minimally invasive arthroscopies (repairs) and total joint replacement.

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