Surgery for thumb arthritis

Health Watch

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Thumb arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and restricts motion in the hand. For most people, over-the-counter medications or a soft brace can bring relief. But for others, surgery is their only option. Learn about a procedure that is giving patients their mobility back.

Pinching, gripping, squeezing, lifting. Sounds simple … but for Marcy Dub, thumb arthritis made those simple daily tasks difficult. Even her golf game was impacted.

“The grip on my golf club. I just couldn’t effectively do the swing,” Dub recalled.

Marcy tried multiple treatments to relieve her symptoms.

“I did go through shots, cortisone shots, twice and a portable splint and it just didn’t work for me,” shared Dub.

Mark Cohen, MD, director of hand and elbow surgery at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush explained, “The joint that becomes arthritic is the joint that connects the metacarpal to the wrist bone. And she has lost all the cartilage in between those two joints.”

Dr. Mark Cohen is the director of hand and elbow surgery at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. For people who don’t find relief with medication or braces, he recommends carpometacarpal arthroplasty, or CMC surgery.

“One of the arthritic bones, the bone that the thumb connects to in the wrist, is removed and the joint is rebuilt with one of the patient’s tendons,” described Dr. Cohen.

The surgery is done in under 45 minutes and the patient can even be awake for the procedure.

“I like to say that the most miserable people going into the surgery are the happiest people coming out,” shared Dr. Cohen.

For Marcy, the surgery allowed her to grab back what she had lost.

“It’s put me back on the map. It’s totally changed,” exclaimed Dub.

And now she’s looking forward to getting back to the swing of things.

Dr. Cohen says 80 to 90 percent of people can treat their thumb arthritis without surgery. But for those whose arthritis is severe, the recovery time is typically about three months after surgery.

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