Trapeziometacarpal arthritis of the thumb

The thumb’s unique range of movement helps us grip, hold and pinch. Trapeziometacarpal arthritis causes pain in the wrist and the base of the thumb, together with stiffness, weakness and reduced mobility. Trapeziometacarpal arthritis is painful and can interfere with the normal activities of daily life, like writing, tooth brushing or lifting a cup of tea. The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers a range of treatments, from leading experts, to reduce pain, improve thumb movement and restore your quality of life.

Physiotherapy, anti-inflammatories and specialist physiotherapy can provide relief for many people living with arthritis in the base of the thumb. If these non-invasive measures have not helped, the expert orthopaedic surgeons can operate in the London Orthopaedic Clinic’s state-of-the-art operating theatres, then support your recovery and healthy rehabilitation.

What is trapeziometacarpal arthritis?

The trapeziometacarpal joint is where the metacarpal bone, at the base of the thumb, articulates with the trapezium bone in the wrist. Wear and tear, injury and inflammation can all cause arthritis, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness. Most arthritis is a result of age-related degeneration, known as osteoarthritis. However, inflammatory conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause problems in the trapeziometacarpal joint.

In a healthy joint, the surfaces of the bones are covered with cartilage, which allows the bones to slide smoothly over each other and acts as a shock absorber. In an arthritic joint, the cartilage degenerates, becoming thin, rough and uneven. The fluid-filled space in the joint gets smaller and bone rubs against bone, causing bony lumps or spurs to form.

Basal thumb arthritis is more common in women, especially those with lax ligaments, and is usually found in people over forty years of age.

Symptoms of trapeziometacarpal arthritis

Trapeziometacarpal arthritis causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the base of the thumb and the side of the wrist. Grasping and gripping often trigger pain and, as the arthritis develops, there can be weakness and reduced mobility in the joint.
With progressive joint damage the area at the base of the thumb can become enlarged and misshapen.

How can the London Orthopaedic Clinic help with thumb arthritis?

The specialist orthopaedic surgeons at the London Orthopaedic Clinic will make a thorough assessment of your joint and consider the impact your arthritis is having on your life. They will arrange investigation by X-ray, MRI or ultrasound in the cutting-edge imaging suite, for more detailed information about the joint. They will take time to answer all your questions and address any concerns, before devising a customised treatment programme. This can include:


Why choose the London Orthopaedic Clinic?

The London Orthopaedic Clinic provides high-quality, expert orthopaedic and musculoskeletal care, tailored to the individual needs of our patients. The Clinic is based at Mayo Clinic Healthcare, at the heart of London’s internationally renowned Harley Street medical district. The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers cutting-edge diagnostics, treatment, management and personalised care.

The expert multi-disciplinary team includes more than 25 leading orthopaedic surgeons, pain management specialists and radiologists. They work together to reduce pain, improve movement and make a real difference to patients’ lives.

The London Orthopaedic Clinic offers patients something truly unique: access to world-leading experts, high-tech imaging and the latest innovative treatments, together with the feeling of trust and safety of a small family practice.

Thumb arthritis treatment costs

The investigation and treatment of thumb arthritis at the London Orthopaedic Clinic may be covered by your health insurance policy. Competitive packages are also available for patients who are self-paying. Contact a member of our friendly team on 020 7186 1000 or at to find out more.