Thumb Arthritis

Many people will experience some form of arthritis in their hand as they age. A common area for arthritis in the hand is in the thumb. Thumb arthritis is often a case of overuse, when the joint gets used a lot and cartilage breaks down. While thumb arthritis can affect anyone, it is more common in women. Luckily, most people don’t experience thumb arthritis until after their 40s.

What Is Thumb Arthritis?

If you have thumb arthritis, you may experience pain in your thumb or even feel as though you have pain in your wrist. Thumb arthritis often happens at the base of the thumb in the joint close to the wrist.

Most often when arthritis happens at this joint close to the wrist, it's because the cartilage between the joints has broken down and deteriorated. When cartilage deteriorates and is lost, bones grind against each other, which often causes pain.

Because the base joint in your hand is close to the wrist, you may be confused about where your pain and potential arthritis are actually occurring. It’s important to see a specialist if you are experiencing consistent (regular) pain in this area. Your specialist will be able to diagnose and determine where your pain is coming from and how best to treat it.

Symptoms of Thumb Arthritis

Thumb arthritis can affect your everyday life. Common symptoms of thumb arthritis include:

  • Experiencing pain with pinching
  • Not being able to open bottles or jars without pain
  • Feeling pain while using keys to open or lock doors
  • Losing mobility in your hand
  • Having pain while shaking hands
  • Not being able to play sports without having thumb pain
  • Swelling and tenderness in the thumb area

Treatment Options

There are many non-surgical and surgical ways to treat thumb arthritis. Depending on the severity of your pain, past injuries, and the limitations you experience from arthritis there are many options for treating your pain.

Non-Surgical Treatments:

  • Using splints
  • Icing the area to decrease inflammation
  • Getting cortisone injections
  • Taking ibuprofen or aspirin to decrease inflammation

Surgical Treatments:

  • Joint fusion
  • Removing a small bone at the base of the thumb

Make an Appointment with Our Orthopedic Specialists

You might not think about how important your wrists and hands are to daily life—until they are hurt or injured. If you have been taking care of your wrist or hand pain at home and the symptoms are still present after seven to 10 days, it may be time to see one of our orthopedic doctors.

Referrals are welcome but not necessary. You can make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor by calling 801-213-4263 or requesting an appointment online.

When to See a Doctor for Hand or Wrist Pain