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Thumb Joint Pain

Mamta Mule Apr 17, 2019
Thumb joint pain is a problem faced by many people. It is mainly caused due to overuse or injury of the thumb. This condition can cause problems like loss of grip and severe pain. Provided here are the causes and treatments for the same.
Thumb joint pain has many causes and can keep you away from work when the pain is severe. Most of the time, daily activities like typing driving, writing, texting, or doing certain repetitive tasks with hands or trauma to the area can be the cause. With this kind of pain, you should have quick relief, as you need to use your hands often, despite the pain.


Physical Trauma

Physical trauma is known to be one of the most common causes of this painful condition. It might be due to an injury from an accident. Accidents may often occur while doing physical work.
It can also be caused due to wrongly picking up or holding heavy objects, leading to excessive pressure on your thumb. Since the thumb is a vital organ of your body, a simple injury to it can limit the range of your activities.


Arthritis leads to inflammation and cartilage loss within the joint. There are several types of arthritis, most common being osteoarthritis, or wear-and-tear arthritis that commonly affects the thumb. If the cartilage capsule that protects the bones from rubbing against each other is damaged, you will experience intense pain in the thumb joint.
Thumb arthritis is much more common in women than in men. The pain due to arthritis can make even household tasks difficult as it limits the strength and range of motion of the thumb. The symptoms of osteoarthritis include swollen joints, stiffness, pain, bone spurs, and the loss of flexibility.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can also be a cause of a painful thumb joint. It is known as chronic systematic autoimmune disorder. It causes inflammation in the joints and tendons. It can also cause tissue damage in these places. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.


Tendonitis of the thumb can also be one of the causes of thumb joint pain. This condition occurs due to swelling or irritation of the tendons found along the thumb side of the wrist. This can further cause the lining around the tendon to swell, which leads to change in the shape of the lining.
When the shape of the lining changes and gets enlarged, it creates difficulty for the tendons to move as they should, leading to joint pain.


If the pain in the thumb joint is due to injury, then its essential to provide sufficient rest to the joint. Most of the time, people start using their thumb as soon as the pain is reduced. Remember, this will only lead to a deeper injury of the tendons or ligaments, making the recovery really difficult. Try to keep the thumb joint as protected as possible.
Osteoarthritis treatment depends on the severity of the pain, and may include the use of cold or heat packs, physical therapy, ointment, oral pain killers, and for serious cases, cortisone shots. Rheumatoid arthritis can be more serious than osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain relief consists of an aggressive treatment that can include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, immune suppressants, and analgesics. Surgery might be recommended for severe cases of thumb pain.
Simple remedies can be tried at home to alleviate the pain. These include application of ice bags, anti-inflammatory ointments, and gentle massage. Use of heated bandages is fine only if the area is not swollen, else the inflammation can worsen.
Remember, not to take any medication on your own as the side effects can be very serious. It is always best to consult an orthopedic doctor in case of thumb joint pain. The dosage and the form of administration of medications, i.e., oral or topical, will be decided by the doctor, and prescribed to you according to the cause of the pain.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.