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A randomised controlled trial of intra-articular corticosteroid injection of the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb in osteoarthritis
  1. G K Meenagh1,
  2. J Patton1,
  3. C Kynes2,
  4. G D Wright1
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr G K Meenagh
    Department of Rheumatology, Musgrave Park Hospital, Stockman’s Lane, Belfast BT9 7JB, UK;


Objective: To investigate the efficacy of corticosteroid injections into the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb (CMCJ) in patients with osteoarthritis.

Design: A double blind, randomised controlled trial using 40 hospital referred patients with CMCJ osteoarthritis who received intra-articular injections of 5 mg triamcinolone hexacetonide (0.25 ml) or sterile 0.9% saline (0.25 ml). Injections were given under imaging control.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was improvement in a pain visual analogue score (VAS) of 20% at 24 weeks. In addition patients were assessed at 4, 12, and 24 weeks for joint stiffness, joint tenderness, and physician and patient global assessments. Hand radiographs were evaluated for the degree of CMC joint space narrowing and marginal osteophytes according to the OARSI atlas.

Results: Baseline clinical variables were not significantly different between the two treatment groups. There was no improvement in the VAS of pain at 24 weeks. At each assessment point there was no significant difference between the steroid and placebo groups in median values for joint stiffness, joint tenderness, or patient and physician global assessments. Non-parametric analysis of each group individually revealed statistically significant improvements in patient and physician global assessments at weeks 4, 12, and 24 in the placebo group and at weeks 4 and 12 in the steroid group.

Conclusions: No clinical benefit was gained from intra-articular steroid injection to the CMCJ in moderate to severe osteoarthritis compared with placebo injection.

  • ACR, American College of Rheumatology
  • CMCJ, carpometacarpal joint
  • EULAR, European League Against Rheumatism
  • OARSI, Osteoarthritis Research Society International
  • VAS, visual analogue score
  • osteoarthritis
  • carpometacarpal joint
  • intra-articular corticosteroid

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