Suffering From Arthritis? An Exocet Thumb Implant Shows Promise In Pain Relief

First Posted: Nov 22, 2016 03:50 AM EST

A new thumb implant made from the same material as missile nose-cones shows promise in reducing pain and restoring mobility for people suffering from thumb arthritis.

Dubbed as Exocet, the small implant is made from a material called pyrolytic carbon (carbon fiber). This material is five times stronger than steel. Based on a trial on more than 600 people suffering from thumb arthritis, about 98 percent said the implant has dramatically reduced pain and improved the mobility of the patients' fingers.

"We have 98 per cent patient satisfaction scores," Dr. Philippe Bellemère, a French doctor who invented the device, told Mail Online.

"We are about to publish a five-year follow-up of the first patients to have the implant and the results are very good indeed," he added.

How Does It Work?

The implant works by preventing the bones from rubbing against each other, which causes severe pain and inflammation. The small implant is placed into the trapezio metacarpal (TMC) joint at the base of the thumb.

Arthritis happens when there is a degenerative mechanism that happens at the different joints in the body. When people age, the cartilage wears away from the ends of the bones at a joint, causing the friction between bones leading to pain, swelling and reduced movement.

Basal Thumb Arthritis

This type of arthritis is often linked to other conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and scaphotrapezial arthritis. These are types of osteoarthritis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis and it is characterized by the progressive loss of the hyaline cartilage of the joints.

In the United States alone, this type of arthritis affects about 13.9 percent of adults aged 25 years and older and 33.5 percent of those who are above 65 years old. Though it affects the knees more, the thumb is also one common location of the disease since it is being used in various daily activities.

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