Trapeziectomy (for osteoarthritis)

The Holly Private Hospital can treat osteoarthritis in the hands or fingers with a surgery called trapeziectomy to help relieve pain and improve mobility.

About the trapezium

The trapezium joins your wrist to your thumb. The bone is cube-shaped and is officially called the trapeziometacarpal joint.

The effect of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the commonest form of the many forms of arthritis. It refers to cases of continual wear to the trapeziometacarpal joint.

The effect of osteoarthritis is to wear away the covering of the cartilage leaving the bone vulnerable so that it feels painful, stiff and weak.

Surgery benefits

Trapeziectomy surgery can relieve the pain and improve mobility.

Alternative treatments

Two ways to offer pain relief are to give your thumb support to restrict movement or to have a steroid injection into the joint. Younger, more active people may be offered a procedure called arthrodesis when the two thumb bones are screwed together permanently.

Details of the operation

There are a variety of anaesthetic choices for this procedure which will take between 60 and 90 minutes to complete.

Access to the trapezium for its removal is made via a small cut on the back of the hand near your thumb base. An artificial ligament made from the tendon which runs close to the trapezium is used to join the thumb to the wrist.

Time to recover

  • Home the same day
  • Keep the hand raised for approximately two weeks
  • Bandage or plaster should be removed after four to six weeks
  • Good recovery is helped by gentle exercise of the thumb and fingers
  • You can stay flexible by exercising your shoulder and elbow gently
  • Keeping up these exercises will mean you can get back to normal movement faster
  • All exercise should be approved by your GP so that you do not overdo it
  • Your thumb and its movement range should continue to improve over the following 12 months


Osteoarthritis of the trapezium can cause considerable pain when you move your thumb. It can also severely restrict your ability to carry out tasks using your thumb. A trapeziectomy can offer the necessary pain relief and help you to use the thumb again.


EIDO Healthcare Limited


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