Thumb Arthritis

The Thumb

The thumb has two bones which are directly connected to the wrist bones. The joint at the base of the thumb is the most important joint in the functioning of the thumb and hand.

What is Thumb Arthritis?

Thumb arthritis is also called basal joint arthritis. It can affect the base joint of the thumb. It can cause immobility and weakness of the thumb.
Thumb arthritis can affect women who are above the age of 40. It can affect the thumbs and fingers of both the hands.

Symptoms of Thumb Arthritis

The first and foremost symptom of thumb arthritis is pain. The primary symptoms include:

  • Severe pain while pinching objects.
  • Reduced flexibility of the thumb.
  • Swelling and stiffness of the thumb.
  • Projected appearance of the thumb bone and joint.
  • Tenderness.
  • Pain at the bottom of the thumb joint.
  • Lack of motion of the thumb.

How to treat Arthritis of the Thumb?

  • Thumb arthritis can be treated effectively by using a custom-made splint. It can support the joint. It can help keep the joint in proper position. A splint can also relieve pain and improve muscle function.
  • Thumb arthritis can be treated with the help of over-the-counter medicines. Taking pain killers like ibuprofen might help to reduce the pain and discomfort.
  • Corticosteroid injections are of a great help in some cases. They can reduce pain and inflammation aroused due to thumb arthritis.
  • Surgical treatment might be preferred sometimes to restore the strength and motion of the thumb joint.

Types of arthritis affecting the thumb

Thumb arthritis can be a type of osteoarthritis or any other inflammatory arthritis. The thumb can get affected by many kinds of arthritis. They are psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout etc. These types of arthritis can cause excess pain, stiffness and swelling.

Home remedies and lifestyle changes for Thumb Arthritis

Thumb arthritis patients can adopt the following methods to increase their independence, improve mobility and relieve pain:

Range-of-Motion Exercises.

You can learn to perform effective exercises that take your thumb through a thorough range of motion. Such exercises can improve the affected joint’s mobility. Learn effective range-of-motion exercises from a qualified physical therapist.

Change Household Equipment

To ease the pressure on your arthritic thumb, you can modify your household equipment. Make the grips larger on your writing devices, kitchen utensils and garden tools. Try to purchase items that have large handles. Replace door handles with levers. Details about such adaptive equipment can be obtained from relevant catalogs.

Apply Cold or Heat

  • To soothe the painful joints you can try cold or heat application.
  • Cold can effectively reduce pain after physical activity or flare-ups. Apply an ice pack or soak your affected hand in cold or cool water. Cold provides a numbing impact that can effectively dull wrist and hand pain.
  • Likewise, heat can also relax tensed muscles, and ease joint stiffness and pain. Use heating pads, hot packs, or soak your hand in paraffin wax or warm water. You can also take a hot bath or shower for relief.

A word of caution:

Beware of frostbite and burns, while applying cold and heat.

Give Relief to the Arthritic Thumb

Give relief to your affected thumb as much as possible. For example, do not grasp the doorknob while opening a door. Try to push open the door with your arm or shoulder.

Educate Yourself

Beware of situations that exacerbate your condition and avoid them as much as possible. Recognize the hand motions that cause pain and avoid them at all costs.