At In Touch Hand Therapy, we have an ongoing interest in improving hand pain and function for people with OA hands, thumbs and wrists – it’s becoming an obsession!
Arthritic joint pain in the hands and thumb has often seen as a right of passage for older adults, with few options in regard to treatment. From a hand therapy perspective, multimodal interventions for thumb OA have been shown to perform slightly better than unimodal therapy (Deveza et al 2021) with some uncertainty about the use of joint protection programmes which in the past have been a core component of management of hand OA. A new area of investigation has been the changes in distribution of mechanoreceptors in the ligaments surrounding the basal joint of patients with OA (Ludwig et al 2015) raising the question as to whether proprioceptive programme could prove beneficial in prevention and management.
Multimodal programmes offered at our clinics include education about joints and soft tissues involved in osteoarthritis, maintaining range of motion, joint position sense training, strengthening for joint stability and screening for imbalances in muscle recruitment in the upper limb. And of course – splinting! Improved self-efficacy with easy to apply self-management strategies and are associated with improved outcomes (Hoogendam et al 2021), so we are focusing on good education, encouragement in maintaining range and improving hand strength and self-help strategies, tailor made to each individuals needs.