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Splinting Brings Long-Term Relief to Arthritis of the Thumb

Last Updated: May 19, 2009.

Splinting the thumb for base-of-thumb osteoarthritis brings no significant short-term improvement but significantly reduces pain and improves hand function over the course of a year, according to a report published in the May 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

TUESDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Splinting the thumb for base-of-thumb osteoarthritis brings no significant short-term improvement but significantly reduces pain and improves hand function over the course of a year, according to a report published in the May 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Francois Rannou, M.D., of Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, and colleagues randomized 112 patients with base-of-thumb osteoarthritis, of whom 57 received a neoprene splint worn at night and 55 received usual care. Primary study outcome was patient-assessed pain on a 0 to 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS) at baseline and at one month. Pain was assessed again at 12 months as a secondary outcome. Other secondary outcomes were changes in hand disability assessed by the Cochin Hand Functional Scale (0 to 90) and patient-perceived disability (VAS, 0 to 100 mm).

The researchers note that there was no significant difference in pain at one month in either group. At 12 months, the study group showed a greater reduction in pain than the control group (adjusted mean VAS change, -22.2 and -7.9, respectively). Also at 12 months, the change in Cochin Hand Functional Scale score was -1.9 for the study group compared to 4.3 for the control group, and patient-perceived disability was -11.6 and 1.5, respectively.

"We believe that these findings are clinically as well as statistically significant because base-of-thumb osteoarthritis is extremely common and the splints were inexpensive and were well-tolerated by participants," the authors conclude.

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