Is it Arthritis? (OA)

Our thumb is one of the things that makes us so unique. It helps us manipulate objects and grip single handed. However, the  joint at the base of our thumb – the carpometacarpal joint (CMCJ) can wear out causing pain at the base of our thumb.

Pain at the base of the thumb can occur for many reasons including injuries, falls, sprains and fractures.

By the time we’re in our 50-60’s around 10-30% of people experience pain and weakness due to osteoarthritis in their CMCJ.

What do I feel?

  • An ache at the base of the thumb that can travel into the hand
  • Pain when pinching
  • Tenderness and joint stiffness
  • Grating when moving
  • Some deformity in the joint

How to treat pain at the base of the thumb

If you’re experiencing pain at the base of your thumb it’s important to get it checked out by a professional. At TBI Health, we have a team of specialist hand therapists who can assess the problem.

If your thumb pain is due to an injury it may require an x-ray, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

If it’s signs of tendonitis or osteoarthritis, you may experience swelling, redness or swollen joints and reduced movement in the thumb. An assessment to determine the best treatment for you would be advisable.

Preventing thumb pain

Many of us work with our hands – working at a computer, or lifting and handling objects or people. Like the rest of our body, it’s good to prevent problems happening by keeping our hands and thumbs in good shape. Keeping your thumb ligaments and muscles strong can help prevent thumb pain.

This can be achieved through exercises or splints for protection.”

Exercises to stabilise your thumb and reduce pain

Here are some exercises that will help stabilise your thumb

Thumb lift. Hold your thumb in a hitchhiking position then bend the tip over. Try to move your thumb back and forth without extending the tip of your thumb.

Balancing a pen across your finger and thumb. Try to move the thumb along the length of the pen and back to the finger without the pen moving from the horizontal position with the table.

Lying hand on the table. Move your index finger towards your thumb and back toward the rest of the hand.

Working with our hands means we have to take care of them to prevent pain and injury in the long-run. Helping us to keep doing the things we love to do!

Now is a great time to look after your hands to prevent pain and injury.

Book an appointment see our specialist Hand Therapists who are experts in the treatment of hand and upper limb injuries.