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Thumb Arthroplasty


Thumb arthroplasty is surgery to replace part or all of the joint at the base of your thumb. This joint is where your thumb bone and wrist bone meet.



  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You will need to return to have your stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Physical or occupational therapy:

A therapist may teach you exercises to help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also strengthen your hand muscles and decrease your risk for loss of function.


  • Apply ice on your thumb for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Elevate your hand above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your hand on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Care for your splint or cast as directed. Ask when you can bathe. Follow directions for bathing with a splint or cast.
  • You may need to do exercises to decrease stiffness in your elbow, shoulder, and fingers. Exercises can also decrease weakness, swelling, and pain. Ask your healthcare provider for specific information.
  • Ask when you can return to your normal daily activities. You may need to avoid some activities while your thumb heals.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your incision is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have increased pain or swelling in your thumb.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your splint or cast comes off.
  • You have severe pain.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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