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People who suffer from thumb arthritis may be treated using a variety of methods. As the condition worsens, it may become increasingly difficult to manage the condition using conventional means. In some cases, surgical intervention may be required to treat the problem. New research shows that thumb arthritis is becoming increasingly more common among baby boomers.
Women More at Risk for Thumb Arthritis
Arthritis affects 27 million Americans in the United States. An estimated 8 percent of the population suffers from thumb arthritis, the second most common form of arthritis affecting the hand. In women, 50 percent of the population over the age of 70 experience thumb arthritis. Post-menopausal women over the age of 40 are at risk for developing thumb arthritis. In fact, 40 percent of women over the age of 70 have thumb arthritis.
Change in Quality of Life
Thumb arthritis symptoms vary from individual to individual. Most women see swelling in the hands. They notice a decreased range of motion. They find it difficult to perform manual tasks with their hands such as opening jars or completing simple household chores.
The typical patient is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications in the initial stages. In mild and moderate cases, anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to patients.
Aspirin, acetaminophen and over-the-counter medications are commonly used to reduce inflammation and pain. Some doctors recommend that patients wear splints to minimize discomfort. Patients may also be advised to follow a series of exercises to promote improved range of motion. Corticosteroid injections are administered to patients who have been experiencing more severe symptoms.
Surgical Intervention as a Last Resort
Surgery is usually reviewed as an option after a person has seen little improvement in their symptoms after having injections. It is recommended in cases where the person has found it difficult to do ordinary tasks. When a person reaches a point where it is difficult to bend the thumb, the surgical option may be explored. The typical recovery period for the procedure is approximately six weeks. In six months, a patient can see their full range of motion restored in many cases.
Tips for Performing Daily Tasks
Those who have started to experience these symptoms can consider altering the way they perform certain tasks to delay the progression of the condition. Activities like turning a key or any similar pinching motion places significant pressure on the joints within the thumb. In identifying the various activities that trigger the symptoms and modifying how those activities are performed, a person can see a difference in quality of life.