CMC thumb surgery is called Excision Arthroplasty or Fusion Arthroplasty of the Thumb. This surgery is done for patients who have a lot of pain in the joint of their thumb due to arthritis. As with any surgery, there are risks of complication.


During CMC thumb surgery your doctor will either fuse the CMC joint or add a spacer between the joints in the thumb to reduce arthritic pain. The CMC joint is the carpometacarpal joint at the base of the thumb that attaches to the joint at the wrist. The goal of the surgery is to either cushion the joint or keep it from moving and causing pain.

Anesthesia Complications

The surgery can be done under complete anesthesia where you will be asleep or a local anesthetic where you will be awake. In either case, you will feel no pain. Anesthesia can sometimes cause complications if they react with other medications the patient is taking, according to


Infection is always a complication of any type of surgery. You will most likely be given an antibiotic to decrease your chance of infection.

Nerve Damage

Many of the nerves of the thumb are near the CMC joint, and it is possible to damage these nerves during surgery. This is usually a temporary condition that resolves itself over time.


The goal of Fusion Arthroplasty of the CMC joint is to fuse the bones together in the thumb so that they do not rub on each other and cause pain. After the surgery you will lose some mobility in the thumb, but you are still able to grasp objects. There are some cases where the fusion is not successful and you will still have pain in your thumb and need another surgery to have success.