Thursday, June 13, 2024

What To Do For Arthritis In The Thumb

Stage 3 Of Thumb Arthritis

Thumb Arthritis (Basal Join Arthritis)

In later stages, your thumb may look crooked. When the middle knuckle of your thumb is bent, and the end joint is hyperextended, it could be what is called a Boutonniere Deformity.

Another crooked position is called a Swan Neck deformity. Your middle knuckle is hyperextended and it may be difficult to move your thumb sideways. With time, the skin in the web of your hand can shrink, making it impossible to open your thumb away from your palm.

In late stages of thumb arthritis, your may actually feel less pain, but the strange position of your thumb makes it harder to use it and you may lose strength.

Is there anything I can do so I dont end up with Stage 2 or Stage 3 arthritis?

It would be really nice to be able to say if you take this pill, wear this brace, or do this exercise, your arthritis will not progress or it may even go away. Unfortunately for those with a family history of arthritis or those who just did not win the toss of the coin for long lived, healthy bones- the disease may progress despite the best care.

What you can do however, is learn to use your hands so they are less stressed, use tools/gadgets that help you with your daily activities and wear splints or braces that support your thumb joints.

Even at the very early stages of CMC arthritis, wearing a brace that applies light compression and support, can really help relieve pain and allow for better movement.

I cant wear a hard thumb brace and still do my work. Are there other options?

What Are The Treatment Options For Thumb Arthritis

Non-surgical options for mild symptoms include:

  • Splints and oral anti-inflammatories: Splints help stabilize the joint, while anti-inflammatories may decrease swelling and inflammation
  • Cortisone Injection: Reduces swelling and inflammation in the joint, which then reduces pain and improves function

When non-surgical treatments are not helpful, a surgical procedure called Thumb CMC Arthroplasty may be recommended:

Frequently asked questions about Thumb CMC Arthroplasty include:

Tips On What To Look For In A Thumb Arthritis Brace

While it really does depend on which part of your thumb is affected and the severity of your arthritis- in general you should look for a brace that supports or immobilizes the thumb joint that hurt.

Looking for information on which thumb brace is right for you?

You may also consider having two braces available. One for daytime use and one for nighttime use. For daytime use, a brace that supports and protects your hand and thumb is recommended and for nighttime use consider a brace that provides rest to calm your symptoms.

Here are few tips on what to look for in a thumb arthritis brace based on which thumb joints hurt:

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Which Thumb Braces Are Best For Different Activity Levels

Most thumb braces are designed for different levels of support for different activity levels. In general, you should look for adjustable braces that let you control how much compression and support they provide.

  • If you will be wearing the brace during daytime activity, look for lightweight options that are designed to support while still allowing some motion
  • When you have to do something that requires dexterity, look for non-bulky materials that let you hold things in your hand so you are not tempted to take it off

Its always recommended that you consult with your health care provider before beginning any treatment. When looking for what thumb brace is best for you, it really depends on your thumb arthritis pain level. Often you can start off with a light support brace that provides compression to reduce your pain, but still allows you to function.

What Are The Symptoms Of Thumb Cmc Arthritis

Thumb Dislocation

The most common symptoms of thumb CMC arthritis are swelling, stiffness and pain. These symptoms can be aggravated by activities that require pinching and may eventually worsen to the point of causing pain even when at rest. In severe cases, the destruction of the joint leads to malalignment, and a prominence develops at the base of the thumb as the thumb joint moves out of position. Malalignment can also lead to limited motion and weakness.

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Exercise For Your Thumbs

Your doctor or a physical therapist may recommend hand exercises. You can do these exercises to improve range of motion and improve your arthritis symptoms.

Simple exercises can include a thumb stretch, in which you attempt to touch the tip of your thumb to just under your pinky finger.

Another stretch, called IP, uses flexion. It requires you to hold your thumb stable with your other hand and attempt to bend just the upper part of the thumb. And an additional exercise is to simply touch the tips of each of your fingers to the tip of your thumb.

You should only do these exercises after consulting with your doctor or physical therapist. And be sure to get instructions to make sure youre doing the movements correctly.

Why Choose Precision Hand Center For Your Thumb Arthritis Procedure

Dr. Rueda, a Hand Fellowship trained surgeon who has 7 years and 2,000 procedures of experience will be your safe and best choice for thumb arthritis. Successful results in this procedure requires a surgeon that is experienced and knowledgeable in hand surgery and hand anatomy. Dr. Rueda has published articles in expert peer reviewed journals and his work has been presented in several national conferences. Dr. Ruedas passion for patient education and custom centered approach will guarantee you feel comfortable every step of the way. Dr. Rueda also believes in treating his patients as if he was treating his own family you can trust you will enter a trusting and long-term relationship and have some of the best thumb arthritis treatment Palm Beach can offer. If you are located in Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, Palm Springs or any other surrounding cities, contact us today to learn more.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Basal Thumb Arthritis

Because your CMC joint enables your thumb to swivel, pivot, grip and pinch, basal thumb arthritis causes pain when making just about any thumb motion. Tasks such as opening a jar or turning a key can be especially painful. Common symptoms of basal thumb arthritis include:

  • Pain or loss of strength when gripping or pinching
  • Swelling or tenderness around the joint
  • Limited range of motion in the thumb
  • Aching or discomfort after prolonged use

What Are The Causes Of Basal Thumb Arthritis

Thumb Arthritis…What to do when facing thumb surgery.

The basal joint is a very mobile joint, which allows the wide range of movement we need for hand use such as grip, pinch, and fine manipulation. This high mobility leaves the joint with poor stability, which increases the risk of damage to the tissues around the joint.

You are more at risk if:

  • you are more than 40 years old
  • your work involves repetitive movement or loading of your thumb
  • you have had a previous injury or fracture to your basal thumb
  • you have other family members with thumb base osteoarthritis.

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How Is Thumb Arthritis Treated

The first method of treatment for thumb arthritis involves wearing a soft brace to limit the movement of your thumb, which allows the joint to rest. If the condition is more serious, a hard brace can be used, and either type can be worn overnight or intermittently throughout the day.

Other noninvasive steps include taking anti-inflammatory medications, modifying your activities, and icing the joint for 5 to 15 minutes several times a day.

If these methods do not help, the next step would be to inject a steroid medication directly into the joint. The injection may provide relief for several months and can be repeated indefinitely. Both men and women typically respond well to such conservative treatments at first, and for some, they may be all that is needed. But the treatments dont stop arthritis from progressing.

When nonsurgical approaches are no longer effective, surgery is an option. The best type of surgery for you depends on a number of factors, including the progression of the disease and how painful the symptoms are. In most cases, surgery for thumb arthritis involves removing some or part of trapezium with varying ways of stabilizing the joint.

How Is Arthritis In The Hand Treated

Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis, stage of arthritis, how many joints are affected, your age, activity level, the hand affected and other existing medical conditions.

Goals of treatment are to:

  • Improve mobility and function.
  • Increase your quality of life.
  • In the case of rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, to slow the progression of the disease.

Treatment options include splinting/bracing, medications, injections, non-drug approaches and surgery.


Splits or braces support and protect the affected joint, reduce deformity, provide joint stability, lessen strain, and promote proper joint alignment. Your healthcare provider, occupational therapist or hand therapist will discuss splinting/bracing options, how and when to wear them and how long to wear them .


Steroid injections

Steroids reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Steroids are usually used if medications dont control inflammation or if the inflammation is limited to a few joints. Injections are administered directly into the affected joint. Because steroids can weaken tendons and ligaments, injections are repeated only a few times.

Other management strategies

A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:


If nonsurgical treatments no longer provide relief and the cartilage at the ends of your bones has worn away, surgery may be an option. There are several approaches:

Also Check: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Your Hands

What Causes Arthritis Of The Hand

Just like most other joints in the body, the ends of the bones of the finger joints are covered with a layer of cartilage, which ensures that the two bone parts smoothly slide over each other. Arthritis of the hand is caused by wear and tear in this cartilage layer, causing the smooth surface to become coarse and irregular. This wear and tear is part of the natural ageing process, but it can also be caused by long-term overloading of the hand joints, by injuries to the hand joints or by auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The latter is a condition where the immune system sees the cartilage cells as foreign bodies and therefore attacks and damages them.

What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Hand

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The main symptoms of arthritis of the hand are stiff and painful joints, which may worsen when the joints are strained or overloaded. The joints generally feel more painful and stiff in the morning, when getting up. This is called start-up pain and usually decreases within half an hour. Wear and tear in the cartilage often goes hand in hand with inflammatory reactions. In this case, the body forms additional bone tissue along the affected joints. These protruding bones are very visible and patients fingers therefore often look knobbly. They cannot stretch their fingers entirely and also report a loss of strength in their fingers.

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Treatment For Thumb Arthritis

Osteoarthritis in the thumb is the most common form of arthritis that affects the hands. Osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. It can affect the basal joint, which is the joint near the wrist and the fleshy part of the thumb. This joint normally allows you to pinch, pivot, and swivel your thumb for hundreds of tasks every day.

In people with thumb arthritis, the cushion-like cartilage inside the joint breaks down over time. This causes the bone to rub against bone. Symptoms of thumb arthritis can become crippling, partly because the thumb is needed so often each day. Decreased grip strength, decreased range of motion, and swelling and pain throughout your hand may occur. You may find it difficult to open jars, twist open a doorknob, or even snap your fingers.

If you have arthritis in other joints like your knees, hips, or elbows, it may make thumb arthritis more likely. Women are more prone to thumb arthritis, especially those with very flexible or lax thumb ligaments. Statistically, women are more likely than men to develop thumb arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another type of arthritis that can develop in the basal joint.

Arthritis is different in each individual. There are a variety of treatments that may work for your particular symptoms.

Initial treatment options involve:

  • splinting
  • steroid injections

If these methods do not relieve pain and improve function, the joint may need to be reconstructed with surgery.

Other Causes Of Thumb Pain

There are other potential causes of thumb pain that need to be considered, especially if simple treatments for some arthritis do not help. Possible causes of thumb pain include:

Sometimes these conditions can mimic the symptoms of arthritis of the thumb, and they can also coexist along with arthritis of the thumb. If you were diagnosed with some arthritis, and your symptoms do not seem to be responding appropriately to treatment, your healthcare provider should evaluate for other potential causes of pain. Sometimes these other conditions may need treatment in order to alleviate your symptoms of discomfort.

If the pain is still not improved, and other conditions do not seem to be the source of your discomfort, it may mean that the treatments provided are not adequate to relieve your condition. In that case, more invasive treatments may ultimately become necessary.

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Arthritis At The Base Of The Thumb

In a normal joint, cartilage covers the ends of the bones and allows them to move smoothly and painlessly against one another. In osteoarthritis , the cartilage layer wears out, resulting in direct contact between the bones. In the hand, the second most common joint to develop osteoarthritis is the joint at the base of the thumb. The thumb basal joint, also known as the carpometacarpal joint, is a specialized saddle-shaped joint that is formed by a small wrist bone and the first of the three bones in the thumb . The specialized shape of this joint allows the thumb its wide range of movementup and down, across the palm, and the ability to pinch with the fingers .

What Are The Symptoms Of Thumb Arthritis

What To Do For Thumb Arthritis and Wrist Pain

Pain in the thumb is the most common symptom of thumb arthritis. You might feel pain when you are pinching or gripping objects, Dr. Luo says. You may also notice a little bump at the base of your thumb, he adds, explaining that this would be a bone spur, or a projection that develops along joints as a result of inflammation, including osteoarthritis.

Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Swelling and tenderness at the base of the thumb
  • An ache after prolonged use of the thumb
  • Loss of strength when gripping or pinching with your thumb
  • Limited motion

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basilar Thumb Arthritis

Some patients with arthritis at the base of the thumb never have symptoms. Others have crippling and severe pain at an early age.

The earliest symptom of thumb arthritis is pain at the base of the thumb with pinching, opening jars, or after long periods of writing. Turning keys or opening door knobs may also be painful.

Weather changes may create pain in the thumb. Heavy repetitive use may also cause deep aching in the thumb. As the arthritis gets worse, the strength of pinching gets weaker and heavy activity is no longer required to make the thumb painful.

Patients with advanced arthritis may feel a grinding/crunching sensation with even small movements of the thumb, and the thumb joint may start to look enlarged, swollen, or out of place. The joint at the base of the thumb becomes very stiff at this point.

Other joints further out towards the tip of the thumb may become looser and more deformed to compensate for the stiffness at the thumb base.

How Is Arthritis Of The Hand Treated

Unfortunately there is no medication to treat arthrosis. Keeping the hands warm can soothe the pain and reduce stiffness. Regularly soaking the hands in warm water or wearing rheumatoid arthritis gloves made from synthetic rubber can help. These gloves keep the hands warm and exert mild pressure on the finger joints, which reduces the pain. These gloves are fingerless, allowing users to use their hands freely. Paracetamol can ease joint pain as well, but it is not a real anti-inflammatory. To reduce inflammation, physicians prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as diclofenac, ibuprofen or naproxen, which often have nasty side effects. A natural alternative is a liquid combination of Green-lipped mussel and Curcumin, which also reduces inflammation in the joints, but without any of the nasty side effects. For more information on this liquid treatment head to your drugstore, health shop or pharmacy, or try a Google search.

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The Diagnosis Of Osteoarthritis

When diagnosing osteoarthritis, your doctor will ask you about your hands and other joints. Explain how your symptoms affect what you do. Your doctor will check how your hands look and function. X-rays of joints with osteoarthritis can show loss of normal joint space, bone spurs, or other changes.

Are There Any Other Treatment Options Being Investigated

swollen right thumb joints

For osteoarthritis, some clinical research trials are underway in the U.S. exploring stem cell treatment. Early findings are encouraging. Stem cell therapy so far has shown to provide some pain relief and improvement in function. The ultimate goal would hopefully be to use stem cells to regrow cartilage.

Over the past decade, researchers developed many new medications for psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with more studies underway.

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