Acad Health Sci, Assoc VP
An estimated 25.6 million U.S. residents are affected by osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand. Thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) joint OA is the most common and disabling form of symptomatic hand OA. The progression of thumb CMC OA is characterized by altered joint mechanics. Preliminary work suggests that specific exercises have instantaneous stabilizing effects on the thumb CMC during fluoroscopic assessment, but their sustained effect is unknown. Another treatment, surgical restoration of joint biomechanics, yields improved hand function but it is invasive. These researchers will test the sustained biomechanical effects of non-invasive thumb exercises; should there be biomechanical benefits, this will provide further evidence to support exercise as a first tier intervention in CMC OA.
Additionally, although musculoskeletal sonography is a more accessible measure of joint stability, its agreement with the gold standard, fluoroscopy, is also unknown. Should ultrasound be a suitable proxy for CAT scans, therapists/physicians could conveniently monitor thumb CMC mechanics in response to treatment without risk of radiation exposure to patients or themselves.
This study will lay the foundation for future work and may offer critical support for the use of a non-pharmacological and non-surgical approach as first-line treatment of a highly disabling disease.