First Carpometacarpal Joint Denervation for Primary Osteoarthritis: Technique and Outcomes

Daniel Donato, Abdullah M. Abunimer, Hussam Abou-Al-Shaar, James Willcockson, Leah Frazer, Mark A. Mahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: First carpometacarpal (CMC) joint osteoarthritis (OA) is commonly encountered in clinical practice. The preferred surgical option when conservative therapy fails varies with the stage and nature of the disease. Denervation of the first CMC joint is a relatively new procedure for managing stable thumb CMC joint OA. Our objective was to review our experience and surgical technique with first CMC joint denervation surgery. Methods: All patients who underwent first CMC joint denervation surgery from January 2015 through September 2017 were retrospectively identified. Before undergoing surgical CMC denervation, patients received a joint block at the first CMC joint with 0.25% bupivacaine. Only patients with a good response to injection were selected for surgical denervation. Patient demographics, preoperative and postoperative pain scores using a numeric rating scale, and grip strength using the Jamar Hydraulic Hand Dynamometer were analyzed. Results: Of 10 patients (13 hands) with CMC joint OA, 8 patients (11 hands) met the inclusion criteria. Patients’ average grip strength improved significantly after the procedure (from 38.4 ± 26.7 foot/lb to 50.2 ± 27.6 foot/lb; P = 0.007). The numeric rating scale pain score improved significantly from 7.8 ± 2.4 to 2.4 ± 1.8 (P < 0.001). Seven of 8 patients reported satisfaction with surgery. There were 2 complications. Conclusions: First CMC joint denervation provided good pain relief and improvement in grip strength in patients with thumb CMC joint OA. This minimally invasive technique proved to be a good option for providing optimal pain control and improvement in strength with minimal and mild complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1374-e1380
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Carpometacarpal joint
  • Grip strength
  • Nerve denervation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain
  • Thumb
  • Trapeziectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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