Non-invasive Regenerative Treatment Might be the Right Option for Your Thumb Arthritis.
Thumb arthritis can be painful. It keeps you from doing things with your hands, like writing, typing, or turning the doorknob. You may be considering surgery, but you’re worried about the complications that come with it, or you’re dreading the long recovery time. Instead, Regenexx’s innovative CMC Thumb Arthritis Protocol might be the option for you. Read more below.
What is Thumb Arthritis?
The carpometacarpal (CMC) joint is located at the base of the thumb, close to the wrist. This complex joint allows the thumb to move back and forth, side-to-side, and swivel, so that the tiny bones of the hand can move without touching each other and causing pain (1). The cartilage of this joint can be easily worn down by frequent use over time, especially as one ages. This wearing down of cartilage can cause osteoarthritis in the thumb area, known as CMC arthritis, basal joint arthritis, or more commonly, thumb arthritis (1).
How Common is Thumb Arthritis?
Thumb arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis in the United States, after knee arthritis. This type of arthritis is usually more common in people over the age of 40 and is 10x more common in women than men (1). There are certain risk factors for thumb arthritis: having rheumatoid arthritis (it can affect the CMC joint as well as osteoarthritis), frequent stress and use of the thumb (in activities or jobs that require frequent thumb movement, like typing or knitting for example), and prior injuries to the thumb joint (1).
Symptoms of thumb arthritis include:
- Pain at the base of the thumb
- Swollen or enlarged appearance of the thumb
- Trouble with pinching, gripping, or rotation movements
- Stiff thumb, decreased range of motion
- Persistent pain or weak feeling after repeated thumb movement (1, 2)
Common Surgical Treatment Options and Why to Avoid Them
If thumb pain caused by CMC arthritis is persistent, a doctor might suggest surgery. However, this should not be the first option. It is best to avoid surgery if possible.
Two main methods of basal joint surgery are as follows:
In the Fusion Method some of the bones of the hand are fused together, or part of the CMC joint is removed and replaced with a medical device (1). The fusion method may help reduce pain, but it significantly limits the way a patient can move their thumb post-surgery.
The Joint Removal Method comes with its own complications, too – the implanted medical device might damage the surrounding bone, or be ineffective at reducing pain (3).
These surgical methods are highly invasive, especially for a complicated joint like the basal joint.
Another reason that surgery should be avoided is the long recovery time. The patient is instructed to wear a cast or splint on their hand for four to eight weeks post-surgery while they regain strength in the joint (1). After the cast is removed, it can take up to several months total for a full recovery, on the condition that the patient did not experience complications with recovery shortly after the surgery (1).
Orthobiogen’s Regenexx Procedure
Regenexx’s CMC Thumb Arthritis Protocol is an innovative non-surgical treatment option for thumb arthritis that uses the body’s own natural healing agents to target and improve three main problems of basal joint arthritis: instability, pain, and impaired function of the basal joint (4). According to the procedure, a Regenexx physician examines a patient’s basal joint using precise imaging techniques and assesses how to most effectively treat the unique problems (4). Regenexx technology uses blood platelets (PRP), or bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells, extracted from the patient’s own body, and injects them back into the problem area in order to stimulate growth and repair (4).
The 2-minute video below visually explains the Regenexx’s CMC Thumb Arthritis Protocol.
Regenexx tracks patient data to see how the treatment works for different patients. When asked to report their pain on a scale from one to ten, before the procedure, patients report a 4.5 average level of pain (5). Just one month after the procedure, patients reported an average pain level of 2.9 – that’s a 35% decrease in pain (5).
In terms of joint function, patients report that their thumb joint works at about 65% of optimal function before the procedure (5). One month after the Regenexx procedure, patients report an average of 74% joint function, and the average number continues to increase over time (5).
Consider a surgery-free option if you are experiencing symptoms or thumb arthritis.