You don’t miss it until it’s gone. We use our thumbs for 90% of our hand movements. Dick Breeze learned the hard way when both of his thumbs were immobilized by severe arthritis.

“You don’t use it as much because it hurts. Therefore you lose the strength in it. So you’re asking somebody else to take the lid off the jelly, the peanut butter the pickles whatever.”

Forget opening a door, opening a pill bottle or brushing your teeth. With this condition almost everything is out of grasp.

“You get sick and tired of it and you find ways to get around it,” says Breeze.

His doctor diagnosed him with CMC, or carpel meta carpel arthritis, something that’s becoming more common.

“It’s a degenerative condition, over years of wear and tear the gliding surfaces of the joint can become more damaged and therefore cause swelling, pain and dysfunction,” says Dr. Dennis Sagini, an orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

After years of pain medications and injections, Dick underwent thumb surgery.

“What’s typically done is replacing the wrist bone with a tendon that’s in the forearm. There are two tendons in the forearm that flex the wrist and one of the tendons which is the weaker one is used to serve as a cushion for the bone that’s removed from the wrist,” says Dr. Sagini.

So one by one, Dick had his thumbs operated on, followed by physical therapy. He’s giving the surgery a big thumbs up.

“It was slightly over two months and the therapy when so well that he says ‘hey you’ve got 100 pounds of pressure you squeeze with the right hand’.”

He now has a new grip on life.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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