06 January 2015

My left thumb

If all goes as planned, this blog will appear on 6 January to announce the surgery on my left thumb, a procedure called Resection Arthroplasty. As you can see in this X-ray, there is no padding, no cartilage, between the base of the metacarpal (the long bone of the thumb) and the corner of the trapezium at the carpometacarpal joint.  The thumb has slid to the right, there are bone spurs growing around it, and every movement is extremely painful.  The number of things I haven't been able to do with my hands has been increasing.  For more than a year, I have not been able to move my thumbs under the other fingers when playing the harpsichord.  Any pulling on clothes can become an agony. Picking up a book or holding a wine glass hurts. Tying a shoelace is like being a kindergartner again. It is a risk to try to lift a large pan for the oven.  I have three different kinds of gloves for protection and support.

I have been promised that once I recover from the surgery -- 2 weeks in a hard cast, 4 weeks in a splint, lots of therapy for 2-3 months -- I will have nearly complete use of the thumb again, and no pain.  Then I will have to schedule the same procedure for the right thumb, something that will be much more complicated, as I am almost exclusively right-handed.

There is an ingenious technique involved in this surgery.  They will take some of the tendon that runs along the arm and up to the ball of the thumb, just beside those blue veins at the wrist.  Part of the tendon they attach to the metacarpal , and then to the next metacarpal to anchor it.  Then the rest of the tendon is made into a little pillow to fill the space left when they remove the trapezium.

The procedure takes about one and a half hours, then more time is required for going into and coming out of anesthesia.  I should be home in time for lunch.

Later: home well before lunchtime, but we ate early.


  1. Best wishes. Take care. The left thumb rules. Temporarily ...

  2. Hope your hand will be restaured as fine as Tullio Lombardo's Adam... :-)


  3. Ellerine saglik! ;) Hans


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