What is Thumb Arthritis?
CMC joint arthritis also known as thumb arthritis occurs at the base of your thumb, where your thumb and wrist meet. Named for the bones that make up the base of your thumb – a Carpal (wrist) bone and a Metacarpal or long bone of the thumb – the (CMC) joint is the most common place in the hand for arthritis.
CMC joint arthritis can be mild or it can progress over time. As the cartilage that covers and protects your thumb joint wears down, the ends of the bones rub together making it difficult to use your thumb. As the condition progresses, the CMC joint can also slip out of place. This may make it difficult to open your thumb and can make grasping and pinching more difficult.
Symptoms of Thumb Arthritis
- Pain at the base of the thumb, down by the wrist
- Pain when pinching or gripping, especially small objects like pens or tool handles
- “Grabbing” or sharp pain when you engage in a certain activity or even at rest
- The base of your thumb might “stick out” and look as though it is a little ledge or step
Treatment for Thumb Arthritis
The best treatment for CMC joint arthritis is to treat it early on with some simple measures. Generally treatment includes anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and inflammation and a splint/brace for support or rest. How much medication and what level of rest or support is needed depends on when the joint hurts, what makes it hurt, and how much it hurts.
It is important to look for a brace that supports the CMC joint without limiting motion more than is necessary. If you feel pain in your thumb only when you do certain tasks, choose a light support brace that supports but still allows motion. If you feel pain even at rest, choose a moderate support brace that immobilizes the thumb. Often, because the pain from CMC joint arthritis tends to vary with activity, you may need both.
Firm support braces immobilize the thumb when full rest is needed. These splints can be recommended and custom fit by your healthcare professional.
Short or hand-based braces that allow full or limited wrist motion and thumb motion can help. They are generally flexible braces that provide support by applying compression and may also include flexible stays or thin plastic inserts for added support.
Thumb Braces for Thumb Arthritis
For light support, the 3pp ThumSling supports the CMC joint and applies light compression to help reduce slipping and grinding on the joint.
For moderate support and rest, the CMCcare Thumb Brace, Fix Comfort Thumb Brace and 3pp Prima Thumb Brace are designed to protect but still allow movement.
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Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for 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 treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.
11 comments on “I Think I Have Thumb Arthritis – What Do I Do About It?”
I’ve got pain in my thumbs after breast cancer. It’s getting worse. Everyday I’ve got pain. What if I can’t use my hands in a year’s time. Please help
Hello Amanda, I’m sorry to hear you are in pain. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and are unable to give medical advice. We suggest you consult with your healthcare provider or with a specialist who can diagnose your thumb problem and recommend treatment. I hope you find relief soon.
I’ve very recently had a small bone, at the base of my thumb, removed from my right hand. I had the left hand operated on with the same procedure a few years ago and have, after a couple of months of physio, never had any pain since. The operation is called a Trapeziectomy and maybe if you are in lots of pain you should mention this to your doctor.
I am going crazy with pain …… it’s been a difficult year for trying to get help ,but luckily my pain management team realised that I was in need of “ extra” help. I have many different areas that suffer from arthritic conditions but boy …..is this thumb and wrist is giving me major grief…… I’m due to see a consultant with a view to corrective surgery, until then I shall continue with wearing my braces. I’ve found reading your comments very helpful, thank you…… wishing us all a big “ pain free “ thumbs up
This is very good
Description nails my thumb pain exactly. I am right hand dominate yet my left thumb base is the point of pain. No other fingers or wrist involved. Look forward to finding more treatment info.
Haven’t mentioned to my doctor as I didn’t want to be a whiner and assumed it was arthritis. Nice to know exactly what it is and will look for light and moderate brace !
Thanks for sharing us this useful article. Hugely helpful. Do more similar articles.
I had the surgery but am always looking 4 different braces. I work with the deaf so I use my hands all the time using sign language.
do u have a catalog
Thank you for your interest in our splints and braces. All of our product information is listed on our web site, as we no longer print a catalog.
We have a variety of thumb splints to choose from that offer different levels of support. Thank you and we hope you find a brace that meets your needs.
Do you have to do the surgery. Did that stop the pain.