Have you ever experienced thumb joint pain? If you have, you know how disruptive and uncomfortable it can be. It is especially problematic when you are trying to do everyday activities, like typing on a computer or scrolling through your phone.
Thumb joint pain can be a real nuisance and a cause of discomfort. However, there are plenty of ways recommended by health experts that can help to reduce any pain or inflammation in your thumb joint. This article will briefly outline some simple and effective tips that you can use to relieve thumb joint pain so you can go back to living life to the fullest.
What Are The First Signs of Arthritis in Your Thumb?
The first and most common symptom of thumb arthritis is pain. When you grip, grasp, or pinch an object or use your thumb to apply force, you may encounter pain at the base of the thumb.
Other signs and symptoms could be:
- The base of the thumb is swollen, stiff, and tender;
- Inability to flex the thumb;
- Weakness when pinching or grasping objects;
- Reduced range of motion; and/or
- The affected joint at the base of your thumb appears enlarged or bony.
You should consult with a medical professional if your thumb swelling or pain is severe, persistent, and/or interferes with your ability to perform daily tasks and activities.
If you believe you have, or may have, dislocated or fractured your thumb, you should seek immediate medical attention. Some warning signs to look for include:
- Immobility of the thumb;
- In or around the thumb, there may be swelling or warmth;
- A crooked thumb or one that feels unstable; and/or
- Grinding sound.
A medical professional will perform a physical examination and ask about potential causes of thumb swelling or pain to determine the underlying cause. If the source of the pain in thumb joint cannot be determined, the medical professional may request imaging tests, for example, an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.
Three Common Causes of Thumb Pain
|Trigger Thumb||Trigger thumb occurs when your thumb remains stuck in a bent position, as if squeezing a trigger. This occurs when tendons become irritated and swollen and can not move easily. Sometimes a bump may form on the tendon, adding to movement difficulty. Farmers, musicians or people in industrial occupations commonly experience trigger thumb due to the heavy reliance and strain on their fingers.||a. Snapping/popping sensation when moving the thumb.|
b. Swelling or bump in the palm.
c. Inability to fully flex the thumb.
d. Locking in the bent position, requiring help from the other hand to straighten.
e. Pain and stiffness when bending.
f. Soreness at the base of the thumb.
|De Quervain’s Tendinosis||When tendons at the base of the thumb become swollen or constricted, they may cause pain along the thumb side of the wrist. De Quervain’s tendinosis may occur from overuse, but it is also associated with pregnancy and rheumatoid disease.||a. Primarily pain felt over the thumb side of the wrist, along with swelling.|
b. A snapping sensation when moving the thumb.
c. Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist.
|Thumb Arthritis||There are several types of arthritis, but the type most often affecting the joint at the thumb’s base is osteoarthritis, aka “wear-and-tear” arthritis. This is found more often in women than men and tends to occur after 40 years of age. The most prominent symptom is pain at the base of the thumb when you grasp an object or apply force with your thumb.||a. Enlarged appearance at the joint of your thumb.|
b. Decreased range of motion.
c. Decreased grasping or pinching strength.
d. Swelling or stiffness at your thumb’s base.
Other causes of thumb pain include:
- Sprained thumb; and
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
How to Relieve Thumb Joint Pain with Natural Remedies
Certain at-home remedies may help relieve arthritis in your hand. Commentators at MIDSS suggest that a healthcare professional should be consulted to ensure that the at-home treatment is safe for the cause of the hand pain. The following are some natural remedies for thumb pain:
Massage the thumb and the area where the wrist and forearm meet can help to relieve muscle tension and pain. When done weekly and followed by daily self-massage at home, a professional hand massage can improve grip strength. Massage therapy can also help to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression.
2. Temperature Therapy
Temperature therapy is the application of heat or cold to alleviate pain. Cold therapy numbs acute pain and reduces inflammation, whereas heat therapy relaxes stiff joints and muscles. Changing between heat and cold therapy can help with pain relief.
3. Stretching and Exercise
Exercises focusing on the tendons and muscles of the hand can be provided by a physical/occupational therapist. This stretches and strengthens these muscles, allowing them to absorb more stress on hand joints and reduce pain. It also improves the flexibility of the fingers and thumb.
Rest may be required if thumb swelling or pain is caused by overuse or repetitive motions, such as typing, writing, sports, or physical labour. Resting for 48 hours aids in the reduction of inflammation and pain. Activities that aggravate or cause pain should be avoided.
To relieve pain, your healthcare professional may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, steroid medication or OTC (over-the-counter) drugs to aid recovery.
6. Compression Glove
Compression gloves are snug and flexible. Reliable sources show that they can reduce basal joint arthritis and stiffness in the thumb when worn overnight. They offer additional support while increasing circulation.
7. Plant-based foods
Diets high in fat and sugar can contribute to inflammation, whilst diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods contain anti-inflammatory nutrients. This can help improve function while also reducing pain.
Curcumin, ginger, and Boswellia are all herbs that some research suggests can help with inflammation and pain relief.
- Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in the relief of pain and swelling.
- Ginger is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It may help relieve pain and reduce the risk of basal joint damage.
- Boswellia, also known as frankincense, is a Boswellia tree resin herbal extract. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve swelling and rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Your thumb pain and numbness may be relieved by some of the above mentioned methods. Although some causes can be treated at home with rest and home remedies, in some cases medical treatment is required to address the underlying cause. If you are unsure, consult a medical professional to determine what is causing your thumb pain.