Thumb splints may have had their day in hand OA: trial

Splints are of no additional benefit in the management of thumb-base OA, a randomised controlled trial concludes. 

The trial randomised 349 patients with symptomatic thumb-base OA and moderate pain to either 8 weeks of self-management; 8 weeks of self-management plus a verum splint; or 8 weeks of self-management plus a placebo splint.

Both patients in the splint arms and the clinical assessors were blinded to the type of splint they had received. 

At follow-up, the researchers from several out-patient occupational and physiotherapist departments across the UK found no evidence of clinically or statistically significant differences between treatment arms for the primary outcome of AUSCAN hand pain at 8 weeks. 

“The addition of splinting to the recommended self-management package delivered by therapists did not confer additional benefit,” they concluded in the study which was due to be presented at the British Society of Rheumatology conference this week. 

They noted that thumb splints were currently a recommended intervention which had previously been supported by low level evidence.

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