Skip to content
Use Code RECOVER5 For a 5% Discount
Use Code RECOVER5 For a 5% Discount
Arthritis in the Thumb - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment - Brace Direct

Thumb Arthritis - Signs, Symptoms & Treatment Options

What is Arthritis and How Does It Affect the Thumb?

Arthritis of the Thumb

Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the joints, leading to pain and stiffness that worsen with age. The thumb, particularly its base, is a common site for arthritis. This joint, known as the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint, is essential for the thumb's gripping and pinching motions. When arthritis strikes, it wears away the cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones, causing the joint surfaces to grind against each other. This degeneration can lead to significant discomfort, impairing hand function and affecting daily activities.

What Causes Arthritis in the Thumb?

  • Natural wear and tear due to aging.
  • Repetitive motion or overuse of the thumb joint, common in certain sports or jobs.
  • A history of trauma or injury to the thumb, such as fractures or sprains.
  • Genetic predispositionβ€”if family members have arthritis, the risk is higher.
  • Obesity, which can put additional stress on the joint.
  • Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis affecting the joint's health.

What are Signs and Symptoms of Thumb Arthritis?

Arthritis of the Thumb

The signs and symptoms of thumb arthritis can vary in intensity but typically include pain and swelling at the base of the thumb. This discomfort can be exacerbated by activities that involve gripping or pinching. A decrease in thumb mobility may make it challenging to perform tasks such as turning doorknobs or opening jars. In advanced stages, you might notice an increase in the size of the joint due to bone spurs or observe a noticeable change in the appearance of your thumb, such as a more pronounced bony protrusion at the joint. As the condition progresses, strength in the thumb may decrease, leading to difficulty with grasp-related tasks.

What Treatment Options are Available for Arthritis of the Thumb?

There are several approaches to managing thumb arthritis, varying from lifestyle adjustments to medical interventions:

  • Non-Medical Treatments:

    • Activity Modification: Limiting or modifying activities that exacerbate symptoms can be beneficial.
    • Physical Therapy: Exercises designed to strengthen the thumb and improve its range of motion can be helpful.
    • Splinting: Wearing splints can immobilize the thumb, allowing it to rest and reduce inflammation.
    • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat can relieve stiffness, while cold can reduce swelling and pain.
  • Medical Treatments:

    • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
    • Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the joint can provide temporary relief from pain and swelling.
    • Surgery: In cases where conservative treatments fail, procedures like joint fusion or replacement might be considered.

What is the Long Term Outlook If You Have Arthritis in Your Thumb?

The long-term outlook for thumb arthritis can vary widely. Early and proactive management can slow the progression of the disease and relieve symptoms. Most people can manage their symptoms effectively with nonsurgical treatments. However, if the condition progresses and significantly impacts quality of life, surgery might offer a more permanent solution. Continuous advancements in medical treatments and surgical techniques are improving outcomes for those with thumb arthritis.


Thumb Splints for Arthritis

Living with thumb arthritis requires an understanding of both the condition and the comprehensive treatment strategies available. By identifying the early signs and symptoms, you can take steps to manage your arthritis proactively. While it can be a source of discomfort and inconvenience, the prognosis for thumb arthritis is generally positive, with many treatment options available to help maintain hand function and alleviate pain. Whether through medical interventions, lifestyle modifications, or the support of splints and braces, it's possible to continue engaging in daily activities with comfort and ease.

If you're looking for solutions for thumb arthritis, contact us. Our experts are here to help you find the perfect thumb support.

Found a brace that helps? Share your story on social media and tag us! #BraceDirect

Previous article Foot Drop: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
Next article Children's Ankle Injuries: Causes, Treatment, and Recovery