I have recently seen an increasing number of patients with altered function of their hands because of pain or reduced range of motion due to common injuries, overuse, basal joint arthritis/osteoarthritis, or other degenerative problems.
Thumb arthritis (or basal joint arthritis) can appear early in life. Because of the constant swiveling and pivoting motions of the basal joint–the joint at the base of the thumb, or thumb CMC (carpometacarpal) joint–the thumb joint tends to wear out easily. Basal joint arthritis is also common in people who have osteoarthritis. As well, tendinitis in the wrist and hand is rampant because of over use of the computer mouse and improper ergonomics.
One way to treat the arthritic condition is with total joint reconstruction surgery. Perhaps over use syndromes may be reduced via voice recognition software but I personally still need to edit and then correct about 15% of my dictations. While surgery may improve the condition for some, this is not the case for all. New problems in the thumb joint may redevelop over time, causing such symptoms as numbness or tenderness. Then there is amazing increase in the occurrence of trigger finger and De Quervains Disease; both which lend themselves to ultrasound guided injection.
A reasonably successful approach to all of these wrist and hand problems is to start with an ultrasound guided intraarticular cortisone injection. Should the latter be of short-term relief, then platelet rich plasma may be successful for a longer period. Before considering the surgical alternative, be aware that Regenexx has published the outcome of 6 patients who were just under a year out (11.3 months) from treatment with their own stem cells 83.4% of thumb patients are reporting greater than 50% improvement after a simple injection of their own stem cells, 66.7% of thumb patients are reporting greater than 75% improvement and the average change is 70% improved. No significant complications in this group were reported.
If you have pain in your hand or wrist, start with a change in the ergonomics in your work place. Most office suppliers have the necessary mechanical devices available. The next step is an arthritic glove available in most large drug stores. If unsuccessful, the next step is an ultrasound guided injection of cortisone, platelet rich plasma and then stem cells in that order when all else fails.
Mitchell B. Sheinkop, M.D.
1565 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60622