When you think about all the things your thumbs can do right…
“Opposition, extension, flexion, there are multiple directions the thumb can go in that fingers cannot,” says Dr. Dennis Sagini, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
It’s no wonder things can go wrong.
“It can be damaged more so than a joint that doesn’t under go those multiple positions,” says Dr. Sagini.
Dick Breeze knows all too well.
“The sudden jolt, you feel a little pain, as the years go by its uh its worse and worse.”
He suffered from severe thumb arthritis or CMC for Carpel Meta Carpel arthritis in both hands.
“It’s a degenerative condition, meaning over years of wear and tear the, the gliding surfaces of the joint can become more roughened and damaged and therefore cause swelling, pain and dysfunction,” says Dr. Sagini.
Try opening a door without the use of your thumb, or a pill bottle or a jar. With this condition, even the most mundane task becomes a complex operation.
“You reach for the door, you push down like this and either pull or pull or you do not use the thumb down on the catch it hurts too bad,” says Breeze.
After years of pain therapy, Dick learned about a surgical technique to mend his damaged thumbs.
“The procedure that’s typically done is replacing the wrist bone with a tendon that’s in the forearm. There are two tendons in the forearm that flex the wrist and one of the tendons which is the weaker one is used to serve as a cushion for the bone that’s removed from the wrist,” says Dr. Sagini.
Dick underwent the operations separately to allow each one time to heal and now he’s armed with two working thumbs.
“Will I ever have as much strength as much dexterity, I’m pretty close to it.”