Does occupational therapy delay or reduce the proportion of patients that receives thumb carpometacarpal joint surgery? A multicentre randomised controlled trial

RMD Open. 2019 Nov 6;5(2):e001046. doi: 10.1136/rmdopen-2019-001046. eCollection 2019.


Objectives: To evaluate whether occupational therapy, provided in the period between referral and surgical consultation, might delay or reduce the need of surgery in thumb carpometacarpal joint (CMCJ) osteoarthritis and to explore predictors for CMCJ surgery.

Methods: This multicentre randomised controlled trial included patients referred for surgical consultation due to CMCJ osteoarthritis. An occupational therapy group received hand osteoarthritis education, assistive devices, CMCJ orthoses and exercises. A control group received only hand osteoarthritis information. Primary outcome was the proportion of patients that had received CMCJ surgery after 2 years. We examined the primary outcome and predictors for surgery with regression models, and time to surgery with the log-rank test and cox regression analyses.

Results: Of 221 patients screened for eligibility, 180 were randomised. Information on the primary outcome was collected from medical records for all included patients. Surgery was performed on 22 patients (24%) that had received occupational therapy and 29 (32%) control patients (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.26 to 1.21; p=0.14). Median time to surgery was 350 days (IQR 210-540) in the occupational therapy group and 296 days (IQR 188-428) in the control group (p=0.13). Previous non-pharmacological treatment (OR 2.72, 95% CI 1.14 to 6.50) and higher motivation for surgery (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.43) were significant predictors for CMCJ surgery.

Conclusions: Occupational therapy showed a small non-significant tendency to delay and reduce the need for surgery in CMCJ osteoarthritis. Previous non-pharmacological treatment and higher motivation for surgery were significant predictors for surgery.

Keywords: hand osteoarthritis; occupational therapy; orthopaedicsurgery; treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty
  • Carpometacarpal Joints / physiopathology
  • Carpometacarpal Joints / surgery*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Occupational Therapy / instrumentation
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Osteoarthritis / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Osteotomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Thumb / physiopathology
  • Thumb / surgery*
  • Time Factors