We use our hands for nearly every task that we do everyday – we need it to create a powerful grip as well as perform complex fine tasks.
Osteoarthritis – or wear and tear in the hand – most commonly affects the base of the thumb (the carpo-metacarpal joint). This joint is subject to extremely large compression forces which can cause ligament and capsule damage. This can ultimately lead to a breakdown in the smooth layer of cartilage in the joint. As a result, patients can experience pain and tenderness and difficulty with everyday tasks such as turning keys, opening jars, writing and anything requiring strong pinch.
In most cases – a splint can be used to rest and support the joint and assist in function. The hand physiotherapists at Total are skilled in determining which is the most suitable splint depending on the extent of pain and arthritis.
These are generally custom made where thermoplastic material is molded to fit your hand. Alternative splints made out of neoprene can also be used. These provide comfort and support, yet do not restrict motion.
Later we use exercises to promote and maintain good joint alignment at the base of the thumb – the key to managing this condition.