Alternative CMC surgery

Posted , 6 users are following.

ARA of the CMC and STT joints

I'm a professional guitarist, age 68 with degeneration of my basal thumb joints on both hands. My left hand started bothering me in 2005 and my right hand started this year. I also have some arthritis in my left pinky tip joint which was exaserbated after a fall which jammed it a year ago. It has since healed, but is slightly bent now. The joint still works with less range of motion, but it doesn't really hinder my playing much yet, as the pain is less now. It may need surgery at some point.

Much of the music I play is fingerstyle (no pick) and very difficult physically to execute on steelstring acoustic guitar, requiring large finger and thumb stretches with barre grip pressure on the fretboard for long periods of time. Barre-ing is when I lay my left index finger across the fretboard with pressure from my thumb on the back of the neck to allow notes to ring while playing other notes over them with the other fingers.

To achieve this soulfully I need full range of motion for my thumbs. Also, grip and pinch strength with no pain to perform up to my standards. And if I get surgery I require quick recovery to resume my playing. I intend on never retiring and maintaining my health so I can perform and record throughout the rest of my life in this body.

Dr. Ed North was my hand surgeon in '05. He said there was no surgery that would give me what I needed and the best alternative at that time was to put up with the condition as long as possible without surgery. He was a great doctor, but he retired a few years ago.

I've since sought help with several other reputable hand surgeons in the Seattle area. None of the procedures that they offer are acceptable for me. I don't want anything artificial in my body to fail, causing more problems. I don't want to lose any existing bone or joint structure. I don't want to rob Peter to pay Paul, ie. The Anchovy. I don't want long recover time. I don't want to have to compromise the quality and emotion in my performance because of pain, loss of strength or range of motion. I'm OCDing because I need to be very sure before I allow myself to go under the knife.

I finally ran across Dr. Tyson Cobb in Davenport, Iowa after much websearch. He ordered fresh xrays, which I had taken in Seattle. After seeing them he encouraged me to consider his ARA of the CMC and STT joints and said I was a good candidate for it.

0 likes, 6 replies

Report / Delete

6 Replies

  • Posted

    I would like to talk with some musicians who have had this procedure. I'm having trouble finding any string players who've had it done.

    Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    I don't know a thing about the kind of surgery that you're talking about. But I do have a couple of warnings for you. If he is the only doctor that does this kind of surgery or procedure then I would be a little bit concerned. Because he would have had to have learned it from someone. One of your best ways to know if it is a legitimate surgery is to see if your insurance will cover of it. If they refuse to pay for this type of surgery then the surgery is bogus.

    I have a bad back and all of the experts the neurosurgeons and the orthopedic surgeons said I was not a candidate for surgery. Then a friend of mine kept pressing me about something called laser back surgery. I did my homework on Google, I selected a location they I looked at my films, I did the whole gambit. They said they could fix my back using this new procedure. But it wasn't going to be covered by my insurance (Medicare) which meant I had to pay cash for it. Two and a half years ago I laid out $13,000 for the surgery that did absolutely nothing for me. I am actually in more pain than I was then. And I'm not to saying that the surgery caused me more pain. The extra pain is caused from something else but the fact remains I was dipped.

    They had all the fancy CDs with people swearing up and down about how much better their life is now and they had this whole fancy package they sent me. I even found someone who had had the surgery on his neck that said that it helped him. And I thought since he wasn't even one of the ones that the hospital recommended that he would be a sure bet to tell the truth. And I'm sure he did tell me the truth for himself. But now I am out of money and still hurt like he'll.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Hi. Thanks for your reply. I feel for you, man. There's allot of scammers out there. I saw a piece on stem cell fraud on "60 minutes" the other night.

      It was shocking. I'm being over cautious because I want to be sure I'm making the right choice before I undergo any surgery. I wish you the best on your recovery.

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Sorry but to put it bluntly you are living  in a fantasy world, what you want is not possible, you need to compromise.

    I have had 2 finger joint replacements and it was the best decision ever, why, because I am pain free. I have restricted motion in the finger but as the OA sets in you get that anyway and usually with a lot of pain as you get bone on bone. 

    Here in in the U.K. We don't allow doctors to offer new treatments unless they are through a properly organised research trial or have been proven elsewhere to be effective. 

    If you do have surgery done, first you have to give the joint several weeks to recover and then it takes more weeks using physiotherapy to get moving again, it doesn't happen overnight.

    unfotunately aging catches up with all of us and sometimes we have to compromise as we can't do the things we did when we were a youngster, best of luck. 

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Are you a doctor? Are you a professional string player? You're pessimistic and opinionated because it's not familiar to you. It is covered by Medicare and Premera, my supplemental insurance. Dr. Cobb was trained in Europe and has been doing the surgery for over 10 years. Google it and you'll find articles on it published in legit medical journals. The statistics gathered in the studies done on it are much better than any of the other standard surgeries. It's basically the same arthroscopic surgery they do to repair knee joints. They go in with a camera through small incisions and buzz out the damaged tissue, creating space in the joint so it can heal. Documented results:

      1. Less pain long term

      2. Better range of motion

      3. Better grip and pinch strength.

      4. Shorter recovery time.

      Research it for yourself before you poo poo it. And don't tell me I'm living in a fantasy world. That's idiotic and narrow minded.

      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Hi Rcazim,

    I'm looking for help also. I'm not a professional musician now (I was in my 20's) but playing fingerstyle guitar is very important to me as I play in a 6 piece and a duo and I hope to play/perform more in retirement - I'm 66. Every day I spend some time googling treatment methods for my left hand thumb basal thumb which has deteriorated similar to yours and is now very painful, particularly after a concert or practice. I occasionally stumble across some miracle cures but eventually all comes back to the Athroplasty and Ligament reconstruction which seems quite invasive and comes with a very long recovery period. I too am very reluctant to go for it but some days I'm very close to calling back the surgeon who gave me the diagnosis and going for it. Have you made any more decisions about your treatment? 

    Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up