Q. Is surgery required for my mother's thumb injury?

Answered by
Dr. Palanikumar Chellamuthu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 14, 2016 and last reviewed on: May 27, 2020

Hi doctor,

Basketball hit my mother's left thumb and there is a regular pain for some two years now. The skin becomes harder in that area. Also, that arm becomes thinner as compared to the other arm. Please help.



Welcome to

  • When was the basketball injury and how was it treated immediately? Was there any x-ray or doctor visit at that time? If so, kindly send them.
  • The two recent x-rays (attachment removed to protect patient identity) seem to suggest first carpometacarpal joint arthritis, which is degeneration of that joint just like in the knee.
  • It can be helped by thumb spica splint, analgesics, warm water fomentation and rest.
  • I am not sure that this was caused entirely by the injury. Are you sure that the current problem was caused by the injury?
  • You have mentioned that the arm became thinner than the other arm, which could have many reasons like cervical disc prolapse, shoulder problems, etc.
  • Kindly send more details on any restriction of the movements in the neck, shoulder, etc.
  • Is there any weakness or sensation difference in the arm? Was she examined by an orthopedic spine or a neurosurgeon? If so, then kindly send the doctor's clinical examination report for better understanding.

Revert back with more detailed history to an orthopaedician and traumatologist online -->

Thank you doctor,

Her main problem is the thumb. Yes, this was because of the basketball hit on the thumb two years ago. Initially, one doctor stretched the thumb for some days and also there is some swelling type skin below the thumb. This arm is a little thinner near the wrist. We have some original photos. Local doctors give only medicines to take and some hot water treatment, but there is no benefit and the problem remains as it is. My mother is 50 years old. Is there any surgery required for her condition?



Welcome back to

Thanks for the details and clinical pictures (attachment removed to protect patient identity).

  • I am more inclined to think in terms of CMC joint arthritis problem only.
  • She will benefit from the above methods and thumb spica splint as suggested earlier. You can also do an MRI of the hand for further confirmation if desired.
  • Kindly show her to a hand surgeon either ortho or plastic and evaluate her further. She might need CMC joint fusion surgery if problem increases or does not respond to these managements.

For further information consult an orthopaedician and traumatologist online -->

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