Doctor Gets Plant Thorn Arthritis (cont.)
I must at this point explain that I am an arthritis expert (a rheumatologist)
and, while I had known about plant thorn arthritis, I had never seen a case. The
development of the inflammation in the joint of plant thorn arthritis is a slow
process that involves certain immune cells that gradually accumulate in the
joint lining tissue (synovium). This immune response to the foreign material
(thorn matter) within the joint is referred to as a foreign body granulomatous
reaction. It is not as acutely inflamed with warmth and redness as is a
bacterial infection, but it is just as dangerous and destructive to the joint,
although slower. There is only one treatment for this form of
So, resigned to the facts of my miserable reality, I consulted with a true expert hand surgeon, Neil Jones, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of the UC Irvine Hand Center at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. We arranged a surgery date a week later and, after regional anesthesia "deadened" my right arm and with light general anesthesia, he opened my knuckle and removed the angry, inflamed tissue as well as a 1 millimeter thorn fragment! That tiny little beast was inflaming my joint and causing my misery.
I had to keep my hand dry and elevated for the next five days. Then it was up to me to aggressively work the joint by moving it as much as possible to regain the range of motion and power. The stitches came out in 13 days. While I am still in the midst of rehabilitating my hand, I anticipate a complete recovery.
I recommend great caution when working around thorny plants. In spite of the fact that I had work gloves on, the palm thorn was sharp enough to easily pierce the glove material and puncture my hand without me actually noticing that I had been stabbed!
I must express my sincere gratitude for the wonderful professional care that I received from my rheumatologists, Catherine Driver, MD, Al Wehrle, MD, and Hernan Castro-Rueda, MD, from my internist, Don Pratt, MD, from my surgeons, Neil Jones, MD, and Gabriel Trainer, MD, and from my hospitals University of California, Irvine Medical Center and Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California.
Last Editorial Review: 1/19/2011 3:41:58 PM