Simon Nicholson came to Spire Hartswood Hospital ten years after dislocating his thumb. Here he tells his story:

"I first dislocated my thumb a decade ago while I was playing rugby. I popped it back in myself and assumed that that was a good enough ‘fix’. Every so often it would dislocate again and I’d pop it back in but over the years it got really bad – it was more painful and it looked awful! I couldn’t play Tennis any more, I couldn’t even hold a pint glass properly, but most importantly, it was making it difficult for me to pick up my children.

About two months ago I fell over and dislocated my thumb again. I decided that I had better get it sorted out once and for all. 

Initially I went to the NHS but was told that I’d be waiting months for an operation so, as I have medical insurance with my job, I decided to go private. I live about an hour away from The Hartswood so it wouldn’t have been my immediate choice of hospital but I had heard about Mr Sood through a friend and decided it was worth the drive to speak to a consultant who had been highly recommended. 

Mr Sood was really good from the start: his initial investigations were thorough and he was able to give me a quick and clear diagnosis. He referred me for an X-ray on the same day as my consultation and later for an MRI scan. He discussed the various surgical options with me and suggested that the best option was to fuse the joint together, securing the thumb with a screw. This would limit the full use of the joint in future but would stop the on-going pain and repeated dislocations.

I had the surgery on 12th June. I worked in the morning, went to the hospital for 1pm, was in surgery by 2pm and home again by 5.30pm. It was so quick! I was given painkillers at first but luckily, as I don’t have a physical job, I was able to go back to work the following day. I struggle to get time off work so for my thumb to be fixed in a single afternoon of annual leave was brilliant.
I’ve had several hand physiotherapy sessions since the operation and I can already use my thumb much more. I should be able to play with my kids and play sports again without worrying about it. Because Mr Sood is a hand surgeon and plastic and reconstructive surgeon, he has not only given me the function back but also given me a normal looking thumb again with minimal scarring. It will take a couple of months to heal fully but I am already really pleased with the outcome (and so is my wife who was sick of looking at my deformed thumb).

I only wish I’d been to see Mr Sood ten years ago. Year on year I had added to the damage so unfortunately I’ll never have 100% function back which I could have done if I’d seen Mr Sood straight away. Men are notorious for not going to see a doctor or going to the hospital when they should. My advice for anyone who has dislocated their thumb and is ignoring it, hoping it will get better on its own, just get it sorted!

I’d definitely recommend Mr Sood and The Hartswood to anybody. All of the staff were so helpful, particularly the lady in MRI who was very kind. The service I got was worth the travel from Hertfordshire and I am really pleased with the result."

The consultants view by Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgeon, Mr Manu Sood.

"Mr Nicholson had longstanding problems for 10 years with a dislocation of his thumb which got significantly worse when he fell over and dislocated it again two months ago. He has a busy job and was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the demands of home and family life with a painful stiff thumb. 

He had already seen two Consultant Hand Surgeons before he came to see me and had been given differing opinions. I realised that he had travelled more than thirty miles to seek my opinion and that it was important for us at the Spire Hartswood Hospital to provide him with the most efficient service to limit his visits to the hospital and also to keep the days that he had to take off work to a minimum. He had his x-ray investigations on the same day as his initial consultation with me and we were subsequently able to carry out an MRI scan to more accurately delineate the anatomy of the affected joint and to rule out any associated problems. 

In view of the longstanding nature of the problem it was important for Mr Nicholson to have a one stop solution. After a detailed discussion we both agreed that I would fuse the painful and dislocated joint using a new technique with a cannulated compression screw. This means that the screw can be completely buried in the bone and rigidly immobilises the joint allowing early movement. This contrasts with the traditional technique of using pins and wires which protrude underneath the skin, can be painful or get infected and need a second procedure to remove them at a later stage.

In addition to the functional benefit of better position of the thumb and abolition of pain. Mr Nicholson also has a good result in terms of the appearance of his thumb and his hand as a whole which is important to him in his job. A good result of this nature can only be achieved in a good Multidisciplinary Hand Clinic with a rapid access to sophisticated diagnostic techniques, state of the art equipment and technology and expert hand therapy all of which is available at the Spire Hospital."