A prospective randomized comparison of neoprene vs thermoplast hand-based thumb spica splinting for trapeziometacarpal arthrosis

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 May;21(5):668-75. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2013.02.006. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Objective: In patients with trapeziometacarpal arthrosis, we tested the hypothesis that there is no difference in arm-specific disability 5-15 weeks after prescription of a pre-fabricated neoprene or a custom-made thermoplast hand-based thumb spica splint with the metacarpophalangeal joint included and the first interphalangeal joint free.

Method: One hundred nineteen patients with a diagnosis of trapeziometacarpal arthrosis were prospectively randomized to wear either a neoprene or a thermoplast hand-based thumb spica splint. At enrollment, patients completed a set of validated questionnaires. An average of 9 weeks later, patients returned for a second visit. Bivariable analyses assessed factors associated with disability, pain and satisfaction. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.

Results: Sixty-two patients (32 with a neoprene and 30 with a thermoplast splint) completed the study, 51 patients (43%) did not return for the second visit, and six did not complete the protocol for other reasons. Non-completers were significantly younger than completers (P < 0.00044). On average completers rated the neoprene splint as more comfortable (P = 0.048), but there were no detectable differences in Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH), change in DASH, pain, satisfaction, pinch or grip strength between the two splint types in our sample.

Conclusion: When compared to custom-made thermoplast splints, pre-fabricated neoprene hand-based thumb spica splints are, on average, more comfortable, less expensive, and as effective in treating trapeziometacarpal arthrosis. This trial was registered at Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00438763).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carpometacarpal Joints*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoprene*
  • Osteoarthritis / complications
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Palliative Care / methods
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Plastics*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Splints*
  • Thumb
  • Trapezium Bone
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Plastics
  • Neoprene

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00438763