K33 — August 2010 — Thumb Reconstruction
Intro: Imagine what life would be like if you couldn't use your thumbs because of severe and painful arthritis. Simple tasks like turning the key in your car, holding a pencil, or using a knife and fork would be very difficult. And cooking a meal? Forget it. The woman you're about to meet hadn't cooked in months, but thanks to a reconstructive surgery at Mayo Clinic, she's back to baking her family's favorites.
"You can't have apple pie unless you have apples."
But before Sheri Peacock had surgery on her thumb, peeling apples was nearly impossible.
"This joint here in the thumb. Any grasping or pinching motion. I could not hold a utensil."
The pain from osteoarthritis kept Sheri out of the kitchen, which her kids didn't appreciate all that much.
"I know it was hard on her, but it was hard for us too (laughter). We had to do dishes more and vacuum (laughter)."
"The thumb is the workhorse of the hand. It does about half the work of the hand."
Dr. Stephen Trigg performed Sheri's surgery. He says the cartilage in her base thumb joint was destroyed. The pain was from bone rubbing on bone. To repair the joint he performed what's called a ligament reconstruction, or tendon suspension arthroplasty. First, Dr. Trigg removed the damaged part of the thumb joint. Then, he removed part of the wrist flexor tendon and interposed it between the bone surfaces, constructing a new joint for the thumb.
"No pain. I have complete range of motion of my hand."
"I don't know how to peel an apple." "I'm going to show you."
It took about three months for Sheri to fully recover after surgery. But now she's back in the kitchen baking goodies for her family.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Dr. Trigg says this operation will relieve pain and give back the use of the thumb for most patients. Sometimes people won't regain full range of motion like Sheri did, but they will see a major improvement. He says this issue is fairly common, especially in women. For more information, visit our website at…
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