Blackberry Thumb and Stem Cells

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Medical illustration of the bones of human hand and wrist

Kate Aedon/Shutterstock

The CMC (Carpal Metacarpal) joint is at the base of the thumb. It’s the most common site of thumb arthritis.  Patients with this problem have difficulty lifting or grasping things and will often get knife like pain at this location where the thumb meets the wrist.  Options for these patients at this point are pretty limited and include steroid shots, joint replacement (not quite there yet), and removal of a wrist bone with replacement of the joint by a coiled up tendon.  While many of the joints we’ve treated with the patient’s own cultured stem cells are large joints, we have always liked treating smaller joints in the hand, foot, or spine, since they require relatively few cells to treat.  I had our research assistant yesterday pull our data on the patients we have treated over the past 2 years with CMC thumb arthritis to get a sense of how we’re doing with this type of hand arthritis.  The results?  We have treated 6 patients who are on average just under a year out (11.3 months) from treatment (this is far fewer than the several hundred large joints we have treated) with Regenexx-C.  83.4% of thumb patients are reporting greater than 50% improvement after a simple injection of their own stem cells, 66.7% of thumb patients are reporting greater than 75% improvement and the average change is 70% improved.  We have had no significant complications in this group.  A case report of a patient in this group of patients with thumb arthritis can be found here. This fits with my recollection of these patients.  Even if the effect only lasts 1-2 years (given our knee data I’d bet it lasts more than 2 years), this is such a small joint that most patients can grow enough cells for many, many treatments which can be saved “on ice” in cryo-preservation indefinitely.

Learn about Regenexx procedures for hand & wrist conditions.
Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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