Thumb joint arthritis (CMC joint) is one of the most common causes of hand pain. Symptoms can include pain when gripping objects, difficulty opening doors or jars, and aching pain at the base of the thumb. Thumb arthritis usually occurs at the joint found at the base of the thumb, where the thumb meets the wrist. This joint, called the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint, is important when trying to grip or pinch. Thumb arthritis is a bit more common in women than men, and increases in frequency over the age of 40 years.
Treatment options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), splints, steroids and surgery. The surgery has usually been performed with large incisions and typically requires removal of one or two wrist bones, along with several months of therapy. However, Dr. Michael Fitzmaurice has been one of the pioneers in a minimally invasive thumb surgery using a new stem cell resurfacing technique and ligament reconstruction.
The Fitzmaurice Hand Institute has continued to pioneer minimally-invasive treatment for thumb arthritis. Arthroscopy of the joint allows Dr. Fitzmaurice to directly visualize any arthritis and/or abnormal bone spurs. Bone spurs located within the joint are removed. If the joint lacks enough articular cartilage (cushion) then a joint reconstruction is performed. First, the top layer of bone is removed using a special instrument called a burr. Next, the stem cell mixture is obtained from bone marrow using a very small needle and this mixture is placed into the joint, resurfacing the bone.
If there is arthritis on both sides of the small wrist bone (trapezium) then an arthroscopic removal of that bone is performed (trapeziectomy). This minimally-invasive approach significantly improves recovery time with less pain than traditional surgery. Then, the joint is strengthened by placing a specially designed suture material between the index finger and thumb bones which help strengthen the weakened ligament. This procedure is performed instead of using tendons from the hand, which further reduces the overall recovery period.
There are only a few surgeons in the world who perform this minimally-invasive surgery for thumb arthritis, using stem cells for resurfacing. Dr. Michael Fitzmaurice developed the EndoTech® system here in Arizona, and has a success rate of greater than 94%.
Studies have shown that this remarkable visualization significantly decreases surgical risks, with zero complications to date in over 4000 procedures performed. EndoTech® results in the least amount of pain and fastest recovery compared to other surgical techniques. This allows for a much higher success rate and a greater overall patient outcome.