Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a functional splint for trapeziometacarpal osteoarthritis.
Methods: Forty patients with a diagnosis of painful trapezio-metacarpal osteoarthritis of the dominant hand were randomized into 2 groups. The study group received the splint at baseline and used it during activities of daily living for 180 days and the control group used the splint only during the evaluations for the first 90 days and during activities of daily living for the following 90 days. Pain, strength, hand function and dexterity (with and without splint) were measured by a blinded assessor at baseline, 45, 90 and 180 days.
Results: The groups were homogenous at baseline for all outcomes evaluated. Pain without the splint was significantly different between groups over time; the study group experienced a decrease in pain beginning with the first evaluation (45 days), whereas the control group achieved a lower pain score only at the end of the study, after having used the splint for 90 days. No significant differences between groups were found for the other parameters.
Conclusion: Splint use during activities of daily living for patients with trapeziometacarpal osteoarthritis reduces pain, but does not alter function, grip strength, pinch strength or dexterity.