Thumb arthritis

Thumb arthritis is common condition as the person ages which occur due to the wearing off of the cartilages from the ends of the bones that forms the joint of the thumb or the carpometacarpal joint.

Thumb arthritis causes severe swelling, pain and reduced strength and range of motion which leads to difficulty in performing simple tasks such as turning doorknobs and opening jars.

Symptoms

  • Pain can be felt at the base of the thumb especially when grasping, gripping or pinching an object and using the thumb when applying pressure.
  • Decreased range of motion
  • There is swelling, stiffness and tenderness felt at the base of the thumb
    Thumb arthritis

    Pain can be felt at the base of the thumb especially when grasping, gripping or pinching an object and using the thumb when applying pressure.

  • Enlarged or bony appearance can be seen at the joint of the base of the thumb

If the swelling, stiffness or pain is severe, it is vital to seek medical help immediately.

Causes

  • Overuse of the thumb
  • Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain and the tendons found around the thumb becomes inflamed and there is a high risk of developing tendonitis which causes pain on the joint of the thumb.

Treatment

  • Apply an ice pack on the affected joint for at least 10- 15 minutes at a time for several times every day to minimize the swelling and pain. Avoid placing ice directly on the skin to prevent frostbite and making the condition worse.
  • Applying a warm compress on the affected thumb can help lessen the muscle tension, stiffness and relieve the muscle spasms. Apply a warm compress before performing any activities which requires the use of the thumb such as playing a piano. Hot packs, heating pads or a paraffin bath is also helpful with the condition.
  • Prepare a hot pack by using a sock and fill it with uncooked rice and tie off the end. Place the sock in the microwave for at least a minute and shake in order to distribute the heat. Rest the hand on the sock or wrap it around the hand.
  • Take paraffin baths which are small tubs where paraffin wax and mineral oil are mixed together and heated. Dip the hand into the mixture several times until the wax becomes hardened and form layers of heated wax. Place the hand in a plastic bag and then cover it with a cloth or towel or an insulated mitt to help retain the heat.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen and supplements such as glucosamine chondroitin.
  • Apply capsaicin cream for the skin to lessen the pain felt on the thumb.
  • Massage the area around the thumb by using a golf ball or tennis ball placed on top of the table and then roll the hand over it. Another way is using an empty roll-on deodorant container to perform self-massage.
  • Wear hand splints to help relieve the arthritis pain by giving support on the joints and lessen unnecessary movements.

 

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