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Thumb arthritis (CMC) workarounds

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Thumb arthritis (CMC) workarounds

Old 01-24-18, 10:16 AM
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Telkwa
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Thumb arthritis (CMC) workarounds

OK, so there's a sub-thread now, let's see if it's working. What have folks done to keep riding with CMC osteoarthritis? BTW, CMC stands for "carpometacarpal", the joint at the base of the thumb. CMC is the most common thumb arthritis, so there are braces built specifically for the ailment.

I don't have a lot to contribute right now because I just bought two bikes after a long spell of no biking at all. I'm trying better grips, cutting the bar width down, different seats, etc.

One thing I've found - you can throw lots of money at grips but moving the handlebar up in the air and transferring weight from the hands to the seat may be the most effective move.

If you've got a few minutes, check out HandLabs. I bought a Push MetaGrip CMC brace from them. It's a tiny piece of plastic that looks like it doesn't do anything but is very effective.

I have some wrist pain too, so I'm ordering the Push Wrist Brace Splint. It looks like the Splint can be worn over the MetaGrip. I'll report back.

OK, this gets a little confusing, but the Wrist Brace Splint is less restrictive than the Wrist Brace. I have a Wrist Brace. The Wrist Brace has hard stiffeners on the back side, which dig into my hand when I'm on the bike. The Splint is probably the better choice but I won't know until it gets here.
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Old 01-24-18, 11:43 AM
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Not sure if what I have is CMC but the joint at the base of both thumbs have given me a lot of problems since 2012 when I spent an excessive amount keyboarding as I was transcribing interviews for my dissertation. It was so bad that I wore a split for many months. When I finally resumed doing more bicycling in 2013, I found that those joints were aggravated especially when I road my Trek bike with its straight bars. I've been taking turmeric daily for the past 2 years and that has provided a lot of relief. I rode the Trek bike for nearly 7 hours on Saturday and didn't have any issues with my thumb joints.
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Old 01-24-18, 01:31 PM
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This answer is probably not what you want to here. I suffered with this for several years on my left thumb. Many shots and never had any relief. I had surgery this winter and 8 weeks post op have zero pain. Procedure is "arthrex mini titerope for cmc arthroplasty". Basically they remove the arthritic bone. Was riding my trainer 1 week post op with time trial bars. Will probably do my other thumb next winter. You can look up procedure on Youtube if you are not squeamish.
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Old 01-27-18, 06:39 AM
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If this is the electric device you mentioned in another post, you'll have a much easier path to comfort than if you had to set up a bike for actual pedaling efficiency. Good luck!
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Old 01-27-18, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Sasquatch16 View Post
This answer is probably not what you want to here. I suffered with this for several years on my left thumb. Many shots and never had any relief. I had surgery this winter and 8 weeks post op have zero pain. Procedure is "arthrex mini titerope for cmc arthroplasty". Basically they remove the arthritic bone. Was riding my trainer 1 week post op with time trial bars. Will probably do my other thumb next winter. You can look up procedure on Youtube if you are not squeamish.
This is the solution the hand doc offered me. I hope it works for you, keep us posted on your recovery and how or if it affects hand use. I have tried using gloves and they only help some....
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Old 01-27-18, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by metalheart44 View Post
This is the solution the hand doc offered me. I hope it works for you, keep us posted on your recovery and how or if it affects hand use. I have tried using gloves and they only help some....
Went on my first outside ride this morning since surgery in November. Had carpal tunnel surgery in both hands at the same time. No tingling or numbness in hands and thumb felt great. Only regret I have is that I waited this long.
If you can live with the down time it is well worth it.
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Old 01-28-18, 07:41 PM
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It's helpful to hear from others. I appreciate it. I've been told that surgery is considered "last resort". They want you to try everything - braces, cortisone, etc. - before going in and pulling out the bone. Good to hear that the surgery worked!

Turmeric seems to be widely accepted. I've been seeing a physical therapist for the thumb. She has arthritis too. She takes some sort of turmeric extract and believes in it.

I got the push Wrist Splint the other day. Sure enough, it can be worn right over the MetaGrip. I haven't been able to test the combination on a long enough ride to really say for sure. Just a couple of short tests. But if your wrist hurts, and your thumb pain is indeed CMC, and the damage isn't so bad that you're past splints and braces, then the MetaGrip/Wrist Splint combo might help. I don't know about tearing up the single-track. I'm guessing many of us have already scaled back our expectations.

The push products aren't cheap. But I've tried several off-the-shelf drug store braces. The push products are a cut above.

Those of you with carpal tunnel - did it take a doctor to diagnose for sure? It looks like there are a couple of simple DIY tests that should give one an idea.

EDIT: Yes, I am somewhat squeamish, and there's no way I'm gonna watch that procedure on YouTube!

Last edited by Telkwa; 01-28-18 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 01-29-18, 12:46 PM
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UPDATE: ERGON GRIPS

Hey, I've got an update. Something that most people probably wouldn't realize. Recently I bought Ergon grips for both of my bikes. Bought 'em online. The Ergons come in Large and Small. My hands are at least average for a 6' tall guy, if not larger. So of course I ordered the Large.

Then I ordered Small for my wife.

The Small arrived today. Here's the thing. The Large grips are the same length as the Small. The big padded part is the same. The only difference between the two is the Small is thinner than the Large where your thumb goes.

If you've got CMC like I do, chances are anything that gets down into the crook of your thumb and spreads the joint hurts. For instance, I tried pulling in a clutch on a motorcycle a year or two ago. Won't do that again.

If you're trying to address CMC pain, and you're willing to shell out the bucks for the Ergon grips, get the Small, not the Large. I wish someone had told me that before I bought two sets of Large.
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