Dealing With Thumb Arthritis

July 27, 2021
The Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist and Hand Center at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

If turning doorknobs or opening jars is painful, it could be thumb arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the type most common type of arthritis affecting the thumb. It's degenerative and breaks down the cushioning cartilage of the joint where the base of the thumb meets the wrist. It occurs most often in women over age 60.

According to Clayton Alexander, M.D., a Fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon in The Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist and Hand Center at Mercy, it's most common in women for several reasons. Women have very subtle anatomical differences in their thumbs and slightly looser ligaments than men. This leads to more wear and tear.

"For thumb arthritis, there are non-operative treatments and operative treatments; you can take pain medication; bracing therapy injections and many different kinds of surgeries that have been developed over time to treat this," Dr. Alexander said.

There is no cure, but Dr. Alexander says treatments are effective.

To view Mercy orthopedic surgeon Dr. Clayton Alexander’s interview regarding thumb arthritis, click here.


Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: dcollins@mdmercy.com Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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