Tag Archives: osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA)

By Lisa M. Cyr, OTD, OTR/L, CHT
Occupational Therapist/Hand Therapist, OrthoConnecticut

Strong Male Hands Twisting a Stubborn Jar Lid (Close-Up)OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA) is one of the most common joint disorders and is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. It affects as many as 12% of the American population over 25. One in 4 women and at least 1 in 12 men will suffer from the pain and loss of function caused by osteoarthritis (OA) of the carpometacarpal joint (CMC) of the thumb during their lifetimes. When the smooth cartilage covering the ends of the bones in the thumb wears away, the bones rub against each other, causing friction and damage to the bones and the CMC joint. This can cause severe pain, swelling, and decreased strength and range of motion, making it difficult to do simple daily tasks. This may lead to loss of function, depression and decreased quality of life, causing many people to ultimately seek surgical intervention for relief.

There are many potential causes for arthritis at the base of the thumb. Since the thumb is involved in at least 40% – 50% of every task that we do with our hands, it is subjected to many forces and strains throughout each day. Each time we pinch something between the fingertip and thumb tip, there is up to 25 times more force at the CMC joint than at the tip! Straining to open a new jar, holding a pen tightly when writing, buttoning tight buttons, pulling tight weeds, twisting a key in a stiff lock, trying to pull open a new bag of cereal or chips, holding pliers or other tools or overly large cups are all examples of ways we repeatedly strain our thumbs each day. Texting, with its repeated thumb motion, can irritate an already inflamed CMC joint.

These techniques are most effective when incorporated early in the disease when people first notice twinges of pain at the base of the thumb with pinching or gripping activities.


Research shows that the disabling effects of basal joint disease can be minimized with conservative interventions such as joint protection strategies, short term immobilization to rest the painful joint, and hand exercises.

A referral to a skilled Occupational Therapist/Hand Therapist for two or three sessions can help significantly decrease pain at the base of the thumb, and enable people to continue doing the activities most important for their quality of life. A skilled Occupational Therapist/Hand Therapist accomplishes this by educating the patient in joint protection techniques and adaptive equipment. Patients are either fitted with a custom thumb stabilizer or educated about an over the counter soft support to help rest the painful CMC joint. The patient is given a home exercise program to help delay the progression of the arthritis. These simple techniques have been shown to dramatically improve pain and function for many people with basal joint arthritis.

Today’s Hip Replacements Have Shorter Recovery Times and Longer-Lasting Results

hip replacement photo_8in wide 1.3 megsIf you suffer from persistent hip pain due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, an injury, or joint deterioration, a hip replacement could both relieve pain and improve mobility.

During the procedure, your damaged hip joint is replaced with implants that recreate the ball and socket of a healthy hip. Most patients can return to an active lifestyle after hip replacement, often becoming more mobile than they had been for years while suffering from hip pain.

While it is not uncommon for your doctor to recommend a hip replacement to those suffering from chronic hip pain, many people still think of the procedure as the last step to treating hip problems.  They fear post-operative complications and months of recovery time. However, the procedure has made tremendous strides in the last few years.  “New technology and new approaches have made hip replacement surgery less invasive, with decreased recovery time,” says specialist Dr. Robert Deveney of the Total Joint Center at Danbury Orthopedics.  “In fact, some minimally invasive approaches, when medically appropriate, can have patients on their feet within days of surgery.”

New Approaches to Hip Replacement

The anterior approach gently pushes muscles and surrounding tissue apart, sparing the muscle tissue from trauma. This enables a much faster recovery and a quicker return to normal function after the operation. It also results in fewer post-operative restrictions than other types of hip replacement surgeries. Ask your orthopedist if you are a candidate for this procedure.

There is also a new, minimally-invasive procedure called a Mini-Posterolateral total hip replacement, which allows for a small incision, no cutting of the abductor muscles aand full weight bearing immediately after surgery. Shorter recovery time and fewer post-operative complications are observed with this procedure.

New Materials Last Longer

In addition, hip sockets are now often being replaced with ceramic or plastic materials, instead of metal. These newer materials are significantly less corrosive and result in improved joint longevity. “State-of-the-art materials and leading edge technology have made hip replacement a very strong option for so many people these days,” says Dr. Deveney. “We are eager to inform patients about all the options so they can make the best decision for themselves and get back to their active lives.”

About Danbury Orthopedics

Danbury Orthopedics, founded in 1954, is a multi-specialty practice staffed by leaders in orthopedic care; the practice is a member of OrthoConnecticut, along with New Milford Orthopedics and Coastal Orthopedics, providing comprehensive care to the community. The practice’s Centers of Excellence provide integrated treatment, offering individualized and compassionate care by a team of specialists. The goal of the practice is to help patients regain mobility, lead active lives and attain optimal well-being. To make an appointment with any of the practice’s specialists, please visit myorthoct.com or call 203.797.1500.