My Thumb Hurts – What’s Wrong?

thumb pain

Thumbs are such wonderful things we generally just take them for granted. When your thumb hurts is when you really notice just how much you use it. There are many conditions that can cause thumb pain.  This blog will highlight some of the most common problems and help to answer the question- My thumb hurts – what’s wrong?

While this information can be used to help narrow down what the problem might be, it is strongly recommended that you seek the advice of a doctor or therapist before beginning any treatment. Treating your symptoms with the wrong diagnosis can not only delay proper treatment, it may also make your condition worse.

Four common conditions that can cause thumb pain are:

  1. CMC Thumb Arthritis
  2. deQuervain’s Tenosynovitis
  3. Gamekeeper’s or Skier’s Thumb
  4. Trigger Thumb

The following chart can help to lead you to what might be the cause of your thumb pain. Answer the “Where does it hurt?” question in the chart to see what might be the cause of your thumb pain.

 

Where Does It Hurt?

You Might Have This

Try This Splint

At the base of the thumb where the thumb meets the wrist. Painful when  pinching or gripping, especially holding small objects like pens or tool handles. CMC Thumb Arthritis: arthritis of the base of the thumb that provides your thumbs mobility
3pp ThumSling

3pp® ThumSling

Along the side of the thumb when moving it into the hitchhiker position or when bending the hand towards the little finger. Pain may “shoot” along the thumb side of your forearm. de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis: inflammation and tightening of the tendons that extend your thumb
3pp ThumSpica

3pp® ThumSpica

3pp Ultra Spica

3pp® Ultra Spica

Pain in the middle joint of your thumb where it attaches to your hand. Difficulty grasping or holding objects. Pinching is painful and hard to do. Gamekeeper’s or Skier’s Thumb: injury to the ligament that stabilizes your thumb so you can pinch and grip
PicMonkey Collage

Firm Support

3pp ThumSpica or ThumSaver MP or 3pp Ultra Spica

A “popping” pain when bending or straightening the end of your thumb. Thumb sticks in a bent position and has to be pulled straight. Trigger Thumb: a narrowing of the tendon covering or a bump on your tendon that limits motion
Oval-8 Splint for trigger thumb

Oval-8 Finger Splint for Trigger Thumb

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3pp Thumsling

3pp® ThumSling®

3pp Ultra Spica Thumb Splint

3pp® Ultra Spica Thumb Splint

ThumSaver MP Thumb Splint

ThumSaver MP Thumb Splint

3pp ThumSpica

3pp® ThumSpica

Mueller Thumb Stabilizer Splint

Mueller Thumb Stabilizer Splint

 Our blogs are presented for informational purposes only and are not to be considered medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic intervention. We are happy to answer questions or comments pertaining to products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

39 Responses to My Thumb Hurts – What’s Wrong?

  1. katherine andrew says:

    Hi the pain and stiffness is in the first joint in my right thumb not the basal joint. What can I do? Thanks I appreciate your blog.

    • Gwolfe says:

      Hi Katherine,

      We are sorry to hear you are having a problem with your thumb. Please know that while we provide information on certain conditions and can describe what a splint might do to alleviate your concern, we cannot provide you with a diagnosis. You may want to review our full list of blog topics related to the thumb at http://www.blog.ohmyarthritis.com/category/ohmythumb/ to see if one describes the problem you are having. Please also consider discussing the information with your health care provider to make certain of a diagnosis and to recommend the best treatment for you.

      If you are not able to discuss your concern with a health care provider near you, you may want to utilize the Arthritis Today “Ask an Expert a Question” service at http://www.arthritistoday.org/community/expert-q–a/ask-expert-question.php.

      To find a health care provider with expertise in conditions related to the hand, please revisit out Contact Us page and view the links on the bottom to find a physician or therapist near you who may be better able to help you find a way to successfully treat your thumb problem.

      I hope this information is helpful and that you are able to determine how best to relieve the discomfort you are experiencing.

  2. Prachi says:

    Hey.. My thumb hurts for more than a week now.. My doctor said it’s an inflammation in the tindon & gave me a splint. I wore it for 4 days but no good … :(
    What should i do ?? Help me…

    • Gwolfe says:

      We are very sorry to hear that you are still experiencing pain in your thumb. Be patient, as it may take 2-4 weeks of splinting and anti-inflammatory medicine to feel improvement. If after that period of time your thumb still isn’t feeling better, you may want to consult with a specialist. Please go to the bottom of our Contact Us page and view the links to find a physician or therapist who can recommend further treatment for your thumb problem.

  3. Teresa Chandler says:

    My thumb joint pain is not in the basal joint but the Distal joint, right side. It hurts at an 8-9/10 when pressure is applied and has been ongoing for about 3 months. It is hard to tell if there is a lump but it is a very small specific localized pain. Can this be a ganglion cyst?

    • Gwolfe says:

      We are very sorry to hear you are having pain in your thumb. Please know that while we provide general information on health conditions on our website, we aren’t able to give you a diagnosis. We suggest you consult with your healthcare provider or with a specialist who can diagnose your thumb problem and recommend treatment. If you decide to seek the help of a hand specialist please see the links on our website – http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/contactus.aspx – to find a hand specialist near you.

      Thank you for trusting us to answer your question. We hope you find relief very soon. If you do find you need a splint, please feel free to e-mail us again.

  4. Kristine Metz says:

    I work as a secretary and a week ago I was using a large binder clip, clipping a big stack of documents. While pressing the binder clip open I had a severe pain and numbing go through my right thumb from the nail bed straight down my thumb to my wrist. Now my hand is not feeling good, some pain and numbness is still going on. Do you think a splint would help? If so what type? Thanks. Kris

    • Gwolfe says:

      Kristine,

      We are sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing. Although we are not health care providers and cannot diagnose your injury, it sounds as though you could have done anything from strain your thumb to rupture a ligament. Given the severity of your pain, we suggest that you consult with your healthcare provider or a hand specialist as soon as possible. Your healthcare professional will do a thorough examination of your hand and provide you with a diagnosis and treatment. If you decide to seek the help of a hand specialist please see the links on our website – http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/contactus.aspx – to find a hand specialist near you.

      In the meantime, it is important to rest and protect your thumb as much as possible. Look for thumb splints that cross the wrist and offer moderate to firm support. You can find these splints for purchase on our site http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/en/functional-splints-and-supports/thumbs, or you may be able to purchase a splint at a drugstore near you.

      We hope your hand feels better soon.

  5. Vivian says:

    My thumb feels as if it is broken,I didn’t know arthritis can be so painful can you please refer me to a specialist in MA. Thank you.

  6. Shirley says:

    Mm yes, the first and most common symptom of thumb arthritis is pain. Pain occurs at the base of your thumb when you grip, grasp or pinch something.

  7. Tai says:

    I believe I have de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis. I have the symptoms listed above. I haven’t seen a Dr. about it yet as I have only had it for a week. But it really hurts, especially when I stretch my thumb in a certain way to do something.
    What can I do for it?

    • Gwolfe says:

      Tai,

      I am very sorry to hear you are having pain in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis. Your best course of action is to consult with your healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnose your thumb problem and give you recommendations for treatment. If you decide to seek the help of a hand specialist, this link on our website may help you to find a hand specialist near you. http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/contactus.aspx

      You can also find additional information about deQuervain’s tenosynovitis on our website http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/arthritis.aspx#DeQuervain%27s with suggested splints listed below this information. Please know that while choosing an appropriate splint to rest your thumb and taking an anti-inflammatory drug may be helpful to relieve your symptoms, it is important to be properly treated by your healthcare provider to prevent worsening of your condition.

  8. Mike says:

    ok so i think i have de Quervain’s Tenosynovitis but the problem is i have a sharp pain that shoots up my arm like a shock wave when the top corner of my nail is tapped or touched

    • Gwolfe says:

      We are very sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb and arm. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals. We strongly suggest that you consult with your healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnose your pain and give you recommendations for treatment. We hope you are feeling better soon.

  9. DrawingGirl says:

    I have pain between my thumb at the joint connecting to the hand. It hurts when I bend it to draw or to play videogames. Is there something wrong with it?

  10. Sara says:

    Hi there,
    I feel pain in my thumb, when I am writing after 5 minutes, Do you know the reason?

    • Gwolfe says:

      Hi Sara,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis for your pain. It’s best to consult with your healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnose your thumb problem and give you recommendations for treatment.

  11. Pam says:

    For about 2-3wks now I have been having numbness and sharp pains in my right thumb. The pain and tingling is 1 in. Below the last joint. When touched or bumped a shooting nerve pain goes straight up to the top of my thumb. My wrist is not involved at all. It is extremely painful. Please help!!!!!

    • Gwolfe says:

      Pam,

      I am sorry that you are experiencing pain and numbness in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis. We suggest that you consult with your healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnose your thumb problem and give you recommendations for treatment. If you decide to seek the help of a hand specialist, this link on our website may help you to find a hand specialist near you. http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/contactus.aspx Good luck and we hope you find relief soon.

  12. rupak shrestha says:

    My left thumb doesn’t twist,i had a cut injury in my palm,thats why i want to consult with abroad to whom it mat concern.can anyone help to consult.

    • Gwolfe says:

      Rupak,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing problems with your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis for your problem. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnosis your thumb problem and give you recommendations for treatment.

  13. Heather Clayden says:

    I experience sharp pain in the thumb of my (L) hand, it usually happens when I pick up or use anything that requires me to grip. The pain is in the pad at the top of my thumb it feels like I have a splinter but I have checked it many times and have found nothing, the pain lasts for some time after pressure has ceased. Please help

    • Gwolfe says:

      Heather,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals. We suggest that you consult with your healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnose your pain and give you recommendations for treatment. If you decide to seek the help of a hand specialist, this link on our website may help you to find a hand specialist near you. http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/contactus.aspx. We hope you are feeling better soon.

  14. mercy says:

    i have pain on my thumb joints and some in the forearm bone for about 15cm up frm the wrists what could be the cause

    • Gwolfe says:

      I am very sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb joints and forearm. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis for your problem. We recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnosis your problem and give you recommendations for treatment. Hope you find some relief soon.

  15. julie edge says:

    iv had a lot of pain in my thumb for few months it feels like iv dislocated it

    • Gwolfe says:

      Julie,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to diagnosis your thumb problem. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider who can examine your thumb to see if its been dislocated and give you recommendations for treatment. I hope your thumb feels better.

  16. Monica says:

    My right thumb has been sore for about 2 weeks now. I noticed swelling now..
    The pain is at the base of mt thumb. I do alot of loom knitting. I believe that is what caused it. Can that happen. It hurts when i hold a glass. Or when i try to open the door. If I try to use my thumb it hurts. I would really appreciate any ideas that you may have. Thank you in advance

    • Gwolfe says:

      Hi Monica,
      I am very sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain and swelling in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and are not able to provide you with a diagnosis. We recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider or a specialist who can examine your thumb and perform a thorough evaluation.

      You may also wish to visit this link on our website http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/contactus.aspx to find a hand specialist near you who can recommend a treatment plan. I hope this helps!

  17. G3thyp3r says:

    I recently got my thumb crushed in a window. (don’t ask)
    It felt completely numb after the accident however, a day later it’s making clicking noises when I bend it every now and then. It’s not bruised or anything I’m just worried if a bone is broken.

    • Gwolfe says:

      I’m very sorry to hear about your thumb injury. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to diagnosis your “clicking thumb”. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider who can examine your thumb to see if its been dislocated or broken and give you recommendations for treatment. It is important to be properly treated by your healthcare provider to prevent worsening of your condition. I hope your thumb feels better soon!

  18. Tommy says:

    I’m very worried as my right hand thumb is really hurting near the top of my thumb just under the nail any remedies?

    • Gwolfe says:

      Tommy,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to diagnosis your thumb problem. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider who can examine your thumb and give you recommendations for treatment. I hope your thumb feels better.

  19. Shannon Budd says:

    My right thumb pops in every joint. It also catches and when I force it to move it feels like I’m breaking my thumb. I can’t use it at all without great pain. What could this be?

    • Gwolfe says:

      Shannon,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb. Our Learn About Health Conditions discusses many common thumb conditions and may be helpful. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to diagnosis your thumb problem. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider who can examine your thumb and give you recommendations for treatment. I hope your thumb feels better.

  20. Robbie Mitchell says:

    I have a really bad stabbing pain in my thumb when i move it to a certain point whats wrong with it ?

    • Gwolfe says:

      Robbie,
      I am very sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumb joints and forearm. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis for your problem. We recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnosis your problem and give you recommendations for treatment. Hope you find some relief soon.

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