Assessment and treatment of nonsurgical thumb carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis: A modified Delphi-based consensus paper of the American Society of Hand Therapists.

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BACKGROUND: While the literature is abundant on hand therapy assessment and treatment of nonsurgical thumb carpometacarpal (CMC) osteoarthritis (OA), clarity and uniformity are meager, making it a desirable diagnosis to establish expert consensus.

PURPOSE: This study aimed to ascertain if consensus exists for the assessment and treatment of nonsurgical management of thumb CMC OA in the hand therapy clinical setting.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a consensus paper via the modified Delphi approach.

METHODS: A modified Delphi method was used to determine consensus among an expert panel, including hand therapists and hand surgeons, via two online surveys. A consensus paper steering committee (from the American Society of Hand Therapist's research division) designed the surveys and analyzed responses. Consensus was established as 75% agreement among the expert panel. Demographic information was collected from the expert panel.

RESULTS: The expert panel included 34 hand therapists and seven hand surgeons. The survey response rates were 93.6% for the first survey and 90.2% for the second survey. Consensus recommendations were classified according to the World Health Organization categorization. These included evaluating the body structures for clinical signs/clinical testing and body functions for pain, range of motion for palmar abduction, radial abduction, opposition, and thumb metacarpal phalangeal flexion/extension, and grip and tripod pinch strength. Further consensus recommendations were for the assessment of function using a region-specific, upper extremity patient-reported outcome measure (activity and participation), environmental factors, outcome expectation, and illness perception within the patient's unique environmental and social contexts. Treatment recommendations included the use of an orthosis during painful activities, a dynamic stability program (stable C posture, release of tight adductors, and strengthening of stabilizers), patient education, joint protection techniques, adaptive equipment, and functional-based intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings describe the consensus of a group of experts and provide a clinical reference tool on the hand therapy assessment and treatment of nonsurgical thumb CMC joint OA.




Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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