Osteoarthritis of the thumb can be an extremely debilitating condition. Until now, treatment options have included anti-inflammatories, splints and cortisone injections. All of which have negative side effects. Now doctors in Miami are using a new technique to eliminate pain and return movement. Most people don’t realize how much we rely on our thumbs. “Picking up a dime off a table when you don’t have your thumbs being as dexterous as you need, you can’t pick the dime up,” states Margie Henghold. For attorney Margie Henghold, carrying a briefcase or law books used to be nearly impossible. She suffered from osteoarthritis of the thumb. Cartilage was wearing away. “And I was afraid that they’d have to remove my thumb, or something along that line. All these thoughts and feelings go through your mind,” Margie says. “So it’s bone rubbing against bone and your cartilage is a lubricating surface. So, if you lose that cartilage you start getting inflammation and pain and eventually deformity of that joint,” Dr. Alejandro Badia explains. At the Miami Hand Center, Dr. Badia uses a tiny camera to diagnose the condition. With miniature instruments, he shifts the bone putting two pieces of cartilage in contact, eliminating bone to bone contact. “Now this is an opportunity to give those people at this earlier stage of arthritis, a treatment that’s not so radical but gives them good pain relief,” Dr. Badia says. Following a few months of physical therapy patients give the new surgery a big thumbs up. “I can pick up the coins off the table, and open up my soda pop. I can do everything that I used to do,” Margie states. Doctors say osteoarthritis is sometimes misdiagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Author: Maureen’s Medical Moment, NBC WNDU Chanel 16, South Bend India