About CMC Joint Arthritis

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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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.

Common Symptoms:

  • 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. 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 a formal diagnosis is made, a treatment plan is created. Treatment plans are customized to you—the goal is to improve your symptoms and function as quickly as possible.

Common Treatments:

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

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Taken to decrease inflammation and pain


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

Physical Therapy

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

Corticosteroid Injections

Relieves pain very quickly

Surgical Treatments:

Surgery may be recommended to treat CMC joint arthritis that does not respond to a nonsurgical treatment plan:


Removes arthritic bone and cartilage


Removes a small thumb bone

CMC Joint Fusion (Arthrodesis)

Removes arthritic bone and cartilage and fuses the joint so it cannot move and cause pain

CMC Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty)

Removes arthritic bone and cartilage and uses a tendon graft to restore thumb movement

At OPA, our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Hand Specialists are experts in treating CMC joint arthritis.

If you are in pain and would like a treatment solution you should contact OPA to schedule an appointment at our location in Anchorage.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Hand & Wrist Team

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Owen L. Ala, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Deryk Anderson, DO

Orthopedic Specialist

Tucker Drury, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Christopher Manion, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.


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