Can We Test For Thumb Arthritis?

Arthritis is the shifting of normal joints into those with swelling and tenderness. Arthritis can hit any bone, and one of the places is the thumb. Thumb arthritis, also called basal thumb arthritis, is the degeneration of the cartilage present at the base of the thumb, which is also known as the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint. It is a type of osteoarthritis that results from wear and time with passing time. Is there a way to test for thumb arthritis? Let’s find out.

Thumb Arthritis Test

Doctors may perform not one but several tests to confirm whether or not you suffer from thumb arthritis. Few of which are mentioned below:

CMC Thumb Grind Test for Arthritis

The grind test for thumb arthritis is the most trusted diagnostic tool that doctors choose in order to diagnose and evaluate the severity of osteoarthritis. How is this test performed? Doctors apply external force or pressure on the thumb metacarpal for the grind test while simultaneously rotating the thumb’s metacarpal base. The doctor interprets the result with your pain impulse; the test is considered positive if the movement causes pain in the joint.

Traction-shift Test

This test is a relatively better and state-of-the-art diagnostic tool. The traction shift test is somewhat similar to the grind test. This is because the result determination is dependent on the occurrence of pain, its presence confirms a positive result of the thumb arthritis test.

Pinch Test

The pinch test is pretty simple compared to the ones above, and you can easily do this independently without medical intervention. However, you must not only rely on this and get a proper examination via actual professionals for the final verdict.

For primary examination at home, you can do this test by touching the tip of your index finger with the thumb. The resultant image should resemble a circle or the letter O. If it doesn’t and more so look like the letter D, it can be a primary indicator of thumb arthritis and a clue for further test.

Lever Test

For the lever test, the doctor will place the index finger and thumb at first metacarpal base, right after the CMC joint, and move the thumb back and forth to pressurize the anterior oblique ligament.

The test turns positive if there is pain impulse at the thumb base. According to a 2016 study, after comparing 3 tests for thumb arthritis, it was found that the lever test was most accurate; therefore, least likely to give out a false-negative result.

Thumb Arthritis Stages

Thumb arthritis has different stages, and the test helps in accurate diagnosis of its severity. This condition deteriorates the joint gradually and is divided into 4 parts:

  1. Little joint space is present, but the surface is normal.
  2. Slight narrowing is seen, with the bones becoming thicker with fluid-filled lesions around them.
  3. Somewhat similarto the previous one,cystic changes are visiblewith a big void in the joint. They also have osteocytes growing, measuring bodies larger than 2mm.
  4. This stage with all the issues above also includes arthritis of the wrists.

Final Outlook

Thumb arthritis gets worse as time passes, and the best option is to go for a proper test so that the severity can be determined. Early diagnosis helps in better treatment. Do not ignore the calls; contact us at Rheumatology Care of North Houston for your troubles. Our team awaits to help you—dial 832 532 9779 for help.

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