Experiencing thumb pain while gripping something is common. You will observe this mostly while writing and holding some object. Our hands, wrists and fingers are composed of three elements, viz., nerves, tendons and ligaments. If you have undergone a surgery or have fractured your wrist or specifically the thumb bone, then thumb pain is bound to occur. Since nerves are interconnected with each other, you shall experience the pain in the thumb and its surrounding region. Writing, gripping and holding any object become difficult if the pain persists.
Dealing With Thumb Pain
Get an X-ray
The first and foremost thing needed is an X-ray. You will get a clear picture of the underlying disorder and then doctors will suggest you the necessary treatment.
If the pain is mild, you will be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to mitigate the pain. Cortisone injections are also given to people in case of severe pain, especially to reduce arthritis pain.
You should rest your thumb unless you completely recover from the pain. Thumb adduction splints are also useful for relieving the tension from the thumb. However, you must remember to remove the splint at least 5-8 times a day to avoid formation of scar tissue.
Physical therapy is performed on the fingers and wrist to relieve tension caused due to over stretching of the thumb. At home you can try rotating your thumb to form a complete circle and then touch the tip of rest of the fingers with your thumb.
Hot Water Compress
Take warm compress on the thumb. Soak your hand (till the wrist) in warm saline water several times in a day. Hot water therapy shall reduce swelling and pain associated with any disorder in the thumb.
Causes Behind Thumb Pain
A ganglion in the thumb might be the reason behind pain when gripping. It is characterized by swelling of a soft tissue in the thumb joint. Even if the center of formation of the ganglion is the wrist or the back of hand, yet the pain might be felt in the thumb. The joint or tendon sheath lying underneath enlarges which causes sharp pain while moving the thumb.
Dupuytren's contracture is a medical condition observed more in men than in women. In this case the skin around the thumb thickens giving rise to a nodular structure. The most obvious reason behind thumb pain when golfing is Dupuytren's contracture. Other symptoms associated with this disorder are drooping of the thumb towards the palm and hardening of the skin. Old people most often suffer from this disorder.
Arthritis causes acute joint pain in the thumb, wherein the thumb loses its mobility partially. Arthritis in the wrist can also give rise to thumb pain. The symptoms are swelling, weakness and numbness in the fingers, particularly in the thumb. The most common types being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
De Quervain's Tendinitis
In this case, the tendons embedded at the base of the thumb swell extensively. It also causes irritation and redness. A person completely loses grip and his thumb becomes weak as the tendons get inflamed. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most probable reasons behind De Quervain's tendinitis. Excessive use of thumb can also cause inflammation of tendons and ligaments.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Improper positioning of hand while typing and writing for a long period gives rise to carpal tunnel syndrome. The median nerve of the wrist when exposed to constant pressure, gets damaged. Other than pain, tingling sensation is also noticed in the wrist. The pain gradually proceeds to the arms which further restricts movement of fingers and wrist.
Injury of the ulnar collateral ligament gives rise to a condition which is medically termed as Skier's thumb. This connective tissue is more prone to injuries, like sprains and twitches. The thumb swells and the pain is excruciating. Movements become painful and a sharp pain is experienced even on mildly twisting the thumb. Gradually the pain affects other fingers, making contraction difficult.
Due to excessive texting on cell phones, the thumb might become numb. Teens and young adults are common sufferers of Blackberry thumb. It is an inflammation of the ulnar collateral ligament which cause immense discomfort while moving the thumb. Twitching is also noticed as a result of incessant use of the thumb while using cell phones.
Under serious circumstances, surgery is the only option recommended by doctors. To end on a positive note, I must mention that, with proper diagnosis and treatment recovery from thumb pain is absolutely possible.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.