Objective: Greater joint laxity and radial subluxation of the thumb metacarpal base have been shown to be risk factors for the development of trapeziometacarpal osteoarthritis in an asymptomatic and radiographically normal joint. Despite this, it is unknown whether joint laxity changes with disease progression from mild to severe osteoarthritis. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between joint laxity and osteoarthritis severity, using the trapeziometacarpal subluxation ratio as an indicator of joint laxity. Method: Baseline data were used from the first 100 participants included in the COMBO (Efficacy of combined conservative therapies on clinical outcomes in base of thumb OA) trial. All participants had bilateral posteroanterior (PA) and Eaton stress view hand radiographs, as well as grip and tip-pinch strength measurements. The PA view was used to assess Kellgren–Lawrence and Eaton grades, and the Eaton stress view was used to assess the trapeziometacarpal joint subluxation ratios. Generalised estimating equations were utilized to account for the fact that hand data are paired, and within-person measurements are therefore not independent. Results: Lower radial subluxation ratios were associated with higher Kellgren–Lawrence grades (B-coefficient −0.302; p-value 0.027), and lower grip strength scores (B-coefficient 2.06; p-value 0.006). Conclusions: Radial subluxation ratios decreased with increasing disease severity, contrary to the progression from a normal joint to one with mild osteoarthritis, wherein higher joint laxity is a risk factor for disease. This may be explained by the mechanical stabilization provided by osteophytes and capsular changes in worsening osteoarthritis, as has been shown to be the case in the knee. Trial registration number: ACTRN 12616000353493. Level of Evidence: III.
- Joint subluxation