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Thumb arthritis : Causes - Symptoms- Diagnosis -Treatment

What is thumb arthritis?

Arthritis of the thumb is common as people age and usually occurs when cartilage wears away from the ends of the bones that form the joint at the base of your thumb - also known as the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint.

Thumb arthritis can cause severe pain, swelling, and decreased strength and range of motion. This makes it difficult to do simple tasks, such as turning door knobs and opening jars. Treatment generally includes a combination of medication and splints. If thumb arthritis is severe, surgery might be required.

What is thumb arthritis?
thumb arthritis

  1. Musculoskeletal system
    1. Human skeleton

    2. Joints

    3. Ligaments

    4. Muscular system

    5. Tendons

Medical terms

  • Thumb arthritis, also known as basal joint arthritis, is a common condition that affects the joint at the base of the thumb. This condition develops over time due to wear and tear on the joint, or from joint injuries or surgeries. Symptoms of thumb arthritis include pain, swelling, redness, decreased range of motion and hand weakness. Treatment may involve medications, physical therapy, cortisone injections or in severe cases surgery.

  • Thumb arthritis is a common form of arthritis that affects the thumb and causes pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility in the thumb joint. It is a progressive condition that may worsen over time if left untreated. It can be caused by either wear-and-tear of the joint or a traumatic incident such as a fall or accident. Furthermore, people with a family history of arthritis or other related conditions may be more likely to develop thumb arthritis.

  • A joint is created once 2 bones meet and articulate, that permits movement. Joints are lined with swish gristle that enables for the straightforward movement of 1 bone relative to a different. arthritis, or osteoarthritis, may be a method that happens with aging and describes the deterioration of the joint gristle. Thumb inflammatory disease is the second commonest form of inflammatory disease within the hand; the foremost rife hand inflammatory disease involves the last joint in every finger.

  • Thumb inflammatory disease is additionally referred to as basal joint inflammatory disease. It's additional common in girls, although actually men will develop this sort of drawback. Typically, osteoarthritis of the thumb happens someday when forty years old. there's a genetic predisposition in developing this inflammatory disease condition. In addition, any form of trauma to the thumb will incline one to thumb inflammatory disease. There are different conditions like inflammatory inflammatory disease (Lupus, unhealthy Arthritis) that may have an effect on the bottom of the thumb and cause the deterioration of that joint.

  • Thumb inflammatory disease happens within the joint at the bottom of the thumb. It's typically a kind of arthritis, which ends up from gradual wear within the joint.

  • In a typical joint, rubbery tissue referred to as gristle covers the ends of opposing bones. The gristle cushions the 2 bones, preventing any friction throughout movement.

  • In individuals with thumb inflammatory disease, the gristle wears away. while not this barrier between them, the 2 bones rub along.

  • As the bones rub along, they produce friction and harm the joint, inflicting pain, inflammation, and different symptoms.

Symptoms Thumb arthritis

Thumb arthritis is the first symptom of pain. Pain may occur when you grip or pinch something, or when you use your thumb to apply force.

Other signs and symptoms might include:

  • Your thumb will feel swollen and tender at the base.

  • My hands feel weaker when I pinch or grasp objects.

  • Decreased range of motion

  • Your thumb may have an enlarged or bony appearance at the joint where it meets your hand.

When to see a doctor

If you have persistent swelling or stiffness in the base of your thumb, see your doctor.

Causes Thumb arthritis

Thumb arthritis is commonly found in older people. Previous trauma or injury to the thumb joint can also cause thumb arthritis.

In a normal thumb joint, cartilage covers the end of each bone. This protects the bones from rubbing against each other and keeps them moving smoothly. With thumb arthritis, the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones deteriorates, becoming rough. The rough surface of the bones then rubs against each other. Not wearing shoes or socks can lead to friction and damage to the joints.

If the damage to the joint causes new bone to grow on either side of the existing bone, these lumps might form on your thumb joint.

Risk factors Thumb arthritis

There are factors that can increase your risk of thumb arthritis, including: 1. Taking a lot of aspirin or other painkillers 2. Having a job that requires you to use your hands a lot 3. Being overweight or obese

  • Female sex.

  • Age above 40 years.

  • Obesity.

  • Some hereditary conditions can cause joint laxity and malformed joints.

  • If you have a thumb injury, it might include fractures or sprains.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the cartilage in different ways- for example, by changing its normal structure and function. Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of thumb arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the CMC joint- usually to a lesser extent than other joints in the hand.

  • Activities and jobs that put a lot of stress on the thumb joint.

Can an arthritic thumb Be Fixed?

Thumb arthritis is often caused by overuse injury or bad posture Other causes can include repetitive stress injuries to the thumb joint These injuries cause inflammation of the joint lining thickening of the joint capsule and swelling at the base of your thumb While most cases respond to conservative treatment such as rest over-the-counter pain medications and steroid injections sometimes surgery is required There are a number of effective arthroscopic procedures needed for treating bones soft tissue and joints in the hand that can be used for a variety of conditions affecting the thumb joints such as DeQuervain's tenosynovitis.

Do exercises help thumb arthritis?

Exercises can help thumb arthritis They generally do not relieve pain but they strengthen the hand improve grip strength and mobility A physical therapist or physiotherapist can design a program of exercise tailored precisely to your needs Keeping up with it is important because repetitive use of the thumb can cause damage to tendons and ligaments that support it A gentle stretch is good for this purpose at least twice a day during which you straighten out your hand but keep the wrist bent downwards.

Is thumb arthritis serious?

Thumb arthritis is a type of joint pain that occurs in the base of the thumb and usually affects only one side It's extremely common accounting for nearly half of all arthritis cases Treatments range from medications to surgery depending on the severity and cause of the problem At first glance it may seem as though thumb arthritis causes no more than mild discomfort but consider how much you use your hands every day Every time you lift something off a shelf or turn a door knob for example your thumbs must move with lightning speed In addition to frequently supporting your body weight thumbs help perform most everyday tasks that require fine.

What are the stages of thumb arthritis?

The stages of thumb arthritis depend on the extent to which it has affected the joints at the base of the thumb and radioulnar joint Some patients may only have a resting deformity while others have limited movement at these joints There are 3 stages: Resting deformity - As little as 10% involvement is enough to cause a deformity in Stage 1. The second metacarpophalangeal joint (MCP) tends to be rotated so that it points back toward the wrist causing an alignment change from 30 degrees between MCP and interphalangeal (IP) joints to 60 degrees or more.

Does massage help thumb arthritis?

According to a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine people who suffer from thumb arthritis can benefit from massage therapy However it should be noted that this is not a "cure" for all cases of arthritis The research found that the individuals who participated in the study had mild arthritic symptoms in their thumbs In addition to massage therapy other forms of treatment may offer relief as well.

How do I get rid of thumb pain?

Thumb pain is a common problem that can be caused by overuse or injury Wrist pain is generally due to the soft-tissue structure of the wrist and thumb as well as muscle tendon ligament and nerve impingement in the wrist In other words many different areas of your hand and arm can cause thumb pain You may not be able to pinpoint exactly where the discomfort originates.

Arthritis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the joints Osteoarthritis rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common type of arthritis Arthritis symptoms include joint pain swelling and stiffness Treatment options depend on the type of arthritis a person has but typically involve medications to treat symptoms and physical therapy to reduce pain and increase joint flexibility.

Diagnosis Thumb arthritis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and look for any noticeable changes in your joints.

If your doctor moves your thumb with pressure against your wrist bone, this might cause a grinding or pain sound. If this happens, it means that the cartilage protecting the bones has worn down and they are rubbing against each other.

X-rays can reveal signs of thumb arthritis, including: Thumb pain, swelling, and redness.

  1. X-ray

  2. (computed tomography) scans(CT)

  3. magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Bone spurs

  • Worn-down cartilage

  • Loss of joint space

Treatment Thumb arthritis

Treatment for thumb arthritis may involve a combination of non-surgical therapies in the early stages. If the arthritis is severe, surgery might be necessary.


If you are in pain, your doctor might prescribe a remedy. This could include:

  • Topical medications such as capsaicin or diclofenac are applied to the skin over the joint to relieve pain.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can be used to relieve pain.

  • Painkillers such as Celebrex or Conzip Ultram are prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain.


A splint can help support your joint and limit the movement of your thumb and wrist. You might wear a splint at night or during the day and night.

Splints can help:

  • Decrease pain

  • Follow the instructions carefully so that your joints are positioned in the correct way while you are completing tasks.

  • Rest your joint


If pain relief and a splint aren't working your doctor might recommend giving you an injection of a long-acting corticosteroid. This type of injection can provide temporary relief from pain and reduce inflammation.


If you don't respond to other treatments or if you can barely bend and twist your thumb, your doctor might recommend surgery. There are several options, including:

  • Joint fusion (arthrodesis).The bones in the joint are permanently connected and cannot move independently. This joint can bear weight without pain, but it has no range of motion.

  • Osteotomy.The bones in the affected joint are moved to correct deformities.

  • Trapeziectomy.A bone in your thumb joint (trapezium) is removed.

  • Joint replacement (arthroplasty).A part of the joint that is affected is removed and replaced with a graft from one of your own muscles or tendons.

These procedures can all be done on an outpatient basis. After the surgery you will likely need to wear a cast or splint over your thumb and wrist for up to six weeks. Once the cast is removed, you might have physical therapy to help you regain hand strength and movement.

  1. Bone transplant

Lifestyle and home remedies

To ease pain and improve joint mobility, try to:

  • Modify hand tools.If you want to modify your home to make it easier for people with limited hand strength, consider purchasing adaptive equipment such as jar openers that require a key turner and large zipper pulls. You can replace traditional door handles that require a grip with levers.

  • Apply cold.Applying cold compresses to the area can help relieve swelling and pain. Apply them several times per day.

  • Apply heat.Sometimes heat is more effective than cold in relieving pain.

Preparing for your appointment

You might be referred to a doctor who specializes in joint disorders (rheumatologist).

What you can do

  • Write down your symptoms,Make sure to bring any relevant information, such as test results or pictures of the problem area.

  • Write down your key medical information,The doctor will take other factors into consideration, such as any other conditions that may be present and the history of injury to the painful joint.

  • Write down key personal information,Avoid making any major changes or stresses in your life.

  • Make a list of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.

  • Please ask a relative or friend to accompany you.To help you remember what the doctor has told you, write it down.

  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What are the most likely causes of my symptoms?

  • What kinds of tests do I need?

  • What is the likelihood of my condition lasting for a short time or for a long time?

  • What treatments are available?

  • Do I need to follow any specific guidelines?

  • What other health conditions do you have? How can I best manage them together?

Do not hesitate to ask other questions when you see your doctor. Besides the questions that you have prepared, be sure to ask any other questions that come to mind.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor might ask you a few questions. Being prepared to answer them might leave time for more in-depth discussion on points you want to address. You might be asked:

  • When did your pain begin?

  • What is the severity of your symptoms? Are they ongoing or intermittent?

  • Do any changes seem to make your symptoms better or worse?

  • Have you ever injured that hand?

General summary

  1. symptoms People who suffer from thumb arthritis or De Quervain’s tenosynovitis experience pain in the thumb area Although this condition is usually caused by repetitive motions it can also be triggered by injury that causes inflammation in the tendons and ligaments around the thumb joint Thumb arthritis symptoms include pain and tenderness at the base of your affected thumb; you may also feel a small lump where the tendons are inflamed Other common symptoms are excessive stiffness of your affected wrist weakness of pinch strength swelling of your entire hand and difficulty gripping objects with your affected thumb Consult with a doctor to discuss treatment.

  2. Thumb arthritis is a degenerative joint condition that affects the small joints of the thumb. It is caused by age-related wear and tear, injury or overuse of the thumb. The main symptom of thumb arthritis is pain and stiffness in the thumb joint that can limit mobility and dexterity. Treatment typically involves rest, physical therapy, medications, and hand exercises to help manage pain and stiffness.

  3. Thumb arthritis is a condition that affects the joints in the thumb. It can be caused by trauma, normal wear and tear, or genetics. The condition is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints, as well as swelling and inflammation. In severe cases, thumb arthritis can lead to decreased mobility and difficulty gripping objects.

  4. Thumb arthritis is one of the most common arthritic joints It can occur as part of an inflammatory condition in the wrist called DeQuervain's syndrome or it can develop from overuse In either case inflammation occurs with thumb arthritis which may cause pain and tenderness when grasping objects Resting your hand to relieve symptoms often helps reduce pain associated with thumb arthritis If left untreated you could permanently lose mobility in your thumb.

Thumb arthritis : Causes - Symptoms- Diagnosis -Treatment

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