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Base of Thumb Arthritis - Arthroscopy


  • Early stage arthritis of the CMC (base of thumb) joint, for diagnosis and synovectomy.
  • Loose bodies.
  • Does not cure arthritis.


  • Plain x-rays are usually all that is required.
  • May perform CT scan if mild arthritis and possible loose bodies.

(Arthroscopy Setup)


  • Day procedure, most commonly under general anaesthetic.
  • Via 2 or 3 small (5mm) incisions.
  • Usually takes approximately 60 minutes.
  • Removal of loose fragments of bone, cartilage or inflamed tissue within the joint.
  • Newer procedure removes half of one the bones of the joint to decompress the joint and make more space.

Post operatively

  • Immediately post operatively the hand is usually quite numb due to local anaesthetic used for the surgery.
  • The hand and wrist will be in a soft dressing and the fingers will be free.
  • It is important to keep the hand elevated after surgery especially in the first 72 hours post op to reduce/limit swelling.
  • Keep the fingers and thumb moving, all the way straight and bent into a fist to limit stiffness and help reduce swelling.
  • May use the hand for light activities as comfortable but avoid heavy activities.
  • Keep the dressing clean and dry.
  • Review at 2 weeks for wound check.
  • Begin Scar massage to soften wounds and desensitize scars.
  • Takes 6 weeks to fully recover.

(Loose Body)

(A Synovitis)

(B Synovitis)

These notes have been prepared by orthopaedic surgeons at OrthoSport Victoria. They are general overviews and information aimed for use by their specific patients and reflects their views, opinions and recommendations. This does not constitute medical advice. The contents are provided for information and education purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Please seek the advice of your specific surgeon or other health care provider with any questions regarding medical conditions and treatment.