Relieve Thumb Pain with a Joint Replacement

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When you think about how to relieve arthritic knee and hip pain the answer is often easy – joint replacement. But did you know that if you suffer from pain due to thumb arthritis you have options, including an innovative new joint replacement procedure.

Dr. James Baker, an affiliated fellowship-trained hand surgeon with OrthoCincy Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine who practices at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, provides this thumb replacement surgery for active patients looking to regain function of their thumb and relieve pain.

The procedure uses a system called the Stablyx hemi-arthroplasty by Skeletal Dynamics. Dr. Baker describes the procedure, “When we perform this surgery, we use an implant to replace one side of the thumb joint. The Stablyx implant is used at the base of the metacarpal bone to mimic normal anatomy and replace the structure of the damaged joint. This allows you to keep a more natural structure and function of your thumb versus other surgical options.”

This surgery, unlike the traditional procedures used to relieve thumb arthritis (Ligament Reconstruction and Tendon Interposition or LRTI), keeps the bone at the base of the thumb (trapezium) intact. As part of the procedure, this bone is recontoured to closely match the original natural shape.

Benefits of Stablyx Joint Replacement:

Arthritis thumb pain can be extremely debilitating. If you are suffering from thumb arthritis you have difficulty opening jars, opening doors and even squeezing toothpaste from a tube. Simple everyday activities, much less work, become challenging and painful.

Dr. Baker explains, “Patients that undergo surgery for thumb arthritis are usually pleased with the results. They go from living with miserable pain and limited use of their thumb to improved function, improved range of motion and less pain. But this new procedure has further added benefits.”

The benefits include:

  • Quicker recovery. The typical recovery from this procedure is eight weeks. By this point, most patients are feeling much better and using the thumb for most all simple day-to-day activities. The traditional LRTI procedure recovery is approximately 12 weeks or longer.
  • The thumb is not shortened during the surgery and the trapezium bone is preserved which maintains the natural thumb anatomy and may result in greater strength and increased range of motion.
  • The surgery can be performed as a same day outpatient procedure.
  • “No bridge burned.” If the Stablyx implant for some reason does not relieve the pain or improve function, it can be removed and the traditional surgery (LRTI) can be performed with expected good outcomes.

Dr. Baker emphasizes it is important to try non-surgical treatments first, “I work with my patients to try the least invasive methods first. If oral medicines and/or a simple brace alone relieves pain, surgery isn’t necessary.”

Joint replacement of the thumb is not for everyone with thumb arthritis. If you are suffering from thumb pain you should make an appointment with a hand specialist to discuss your options for treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about joint replacement of the thumb, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons from OrthoCincy Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine at (859) 301-BONE (2663).