Thumb Arthritis: Understanding the 4 Stages and How to Manage It

managing thumb arthritis

Thumb arthritis affects millions of people worldwide, causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in the thumb joints. By understanding the four stages of thumb arthritis, you can take action to prevent further damage and find relief.

4 Stages of Thumb Arthritis

Stage 1: During this stage, you may experience mild pain and swelling when putting pressure on the thumb joint. Activities like gripping or pinching objects may trigger these symptoms.

To alleviate the pain in this early stage of thumb arthritis try avoiding activities that can strain the thumb such as using your non-dominant hand more often and avoiding repetitive movements. Taking over-the-counter pain medications and using thumb splints or braces may also help.

Stage 2:  As thumb arthritis progresses, the cartilage in your thumb wears down more, and bone spurs may start to develop. This can lead to increased pain, stiffness, and swelling that can interfere with everyday tasks like opening jars or buttoning clothes.

Medical intervention, such as splinting, steroid injections, or pain management medications may be necessary at this stage.

Stage 3: At this point, the joint cartilage may be bone-on-bone which can cause increasing pain, loss of grip strength, and limited movement. Bone spurs can also contribute to joint deformity.

Surgery may be required to correct the deformity and restore function.

Stage 4: This is the most advanced stage of thumb arthritis, where joint damage is extensive, and pain is severe. The joint may become immobile, making even simple tasks challenging.

Surgical procedures like joint replacement or fusion may be the best options to alleviate pain and restore function.

Learn More on How to Relieve Your Thumb Pain?  Download Our Guide

oma thumb ebook

Early Diagnosis & Prompt Treatment

Thankfully, an early diagnosis and prompt treatment can make a significant difference in managing thumb arthritis. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines, wearing a splint or brace, and modifying your activities can help relieve pain and prevent the condition from progressing.

Choosing the Right Splint or Brace

Finding the right support for your thumb can help ease symptoms and reduce pain.

For pain at the base of the thumb consider the CMCcare Thumb Brace and the 3pp Prima Thumb Brace

cmccare thumb brace for cmc thumb arthritis
CMCcare Thumb  Brace
3pp prima thumb brace for thumb arthritis
3pp Prima Thumb  Brace

If your pain is mostly at the middle or “MP” joint the Fix Comfort Thumb Brace  offers firm support to stabilize the middle and base of your thumb.

fix comfort thumb brace for thumb arthritis
Fix Comfort Thumb  Brace

For pain and swelling along the thumb side of the wrist the  3pp Ez FIT Thumb Spica Splint provides secure and extended thumb support.

3pp ez fit thumspica splint for de quervains, gamekeepers thumb or skiers thumb
3pp Ez FIT Thumb Spica Splint

Understanding the four stages of thumb arthritis empowers you to manage and treat the condition effectively. By taking proactive steps to manage it, you can live a more comfortable and active life. Don’t let thumb arthritis hold you back – seek early diagnosis and treatment for better outcomes.

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thumb braces for thumb arthritis

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 any products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

12 comments on “Thumb Arthritis: Understanding the 4 Stages and How to Manage It

  1. I have not been diagnosed with carpal tunnel but a very painful steroid shot about a year ago in my left wrist and thumb area gave a two reprieve. pain has accelerated to the point of not being able to use the thumb. I had blood work which showed hyperemia ( uric acid level) so, my doctor put me on Colchicine 1 tablet per day which causes nausea and diarrhea. I have two weeks to go on a 30 day supply. I’m thinking it’s not helping. the pain in on the base of thumb and the bend near the distal end of thumb. Do you have any ideas for me? also, I have had two rounds of bladder infection due to candida albucans during this time treated with Cipro. Cipro seemed to help the vestibular vaginitis due to the bladder infection. I do not know if the two situations are related to the hyper uric acid or not.

    1. Latresa, We’re very sorry to hear about the wrist/thumb pain you’ve been experiencing. As we are not medical professionals we are unable to provide medical advice or diagnose health conditions. Your symptoms could be due to a variety of causes, and it’s important to get a professional evaluation to determine the underlying issue. We strongly recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They have the knowledge and tools to provide you with accurate information and appropriate treatment options. We wish you all the best and hope you get the necessary help soon.

  2. Hi my name is Stephanie and I had a car wreck over a 1 yr ago and I had damage done to my body…x-rays were done and so was MRI done…they found unremarkable areas from my neck down and then there is my right thumb that was bothering me but they found nothing..but now my right thumb hurts really bad with pain on the daily..Like as if it has hit ice sitting directly on the bone..what could that be..and the pain is severe…

    1. Stephanie, We’re very sorry to hear about your accident and the thumb pain you’ve been experiencing. As we are not medical professionals we are unable to provide medical advice. We strongly recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They have the knowledge and tools to provide you with accurate information and appropriate treatment options. We wish you all the best and hope you get the necessary help soon.

  3. I have Basil joint arthritis in my L thumb. Most of pain is in the thumb pad at base of thumb, however if I bump or try to use thumb I have pain in entire thumb. I have tried splits (did not help) I had a steroid injection and the pain completely disappeared for 1 1/2 yrs. Pain came back and 2 nd injection only lasted a few weeks. I can tolerate the pain most of time. Should I wait to have surgery until I can not tolerate pain anymore or could I do further damage to area by waiting.

    1. Hi Jeannine,
      Thank you for reaching out to us. We are sorry to hear about the pain you’re going through because of your Basil joint arthritis. It’s not easy dealing with chronic pain, and we commend your resilience. It’s important to note that we are not medical professionals. As such, we cannot provide medical advice or recommendations regarding your condition. We strongly encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider about your concerns. They are best equipped to address your questions and guide you on the appropriate course of action. It’s crucial that you discuss your pain tolerance and the potential risks of waiting for surgery with them. Hope you find relief soon.

    2. I wish a ortho hand surgeon could respond to your question. I am experiencing the very same thing, although my surgeon told me with moderate to severe thumb arthritis, injections probably wouldn’t be much help. I have to wear a brace almost 24 hours a day. As soon as I remove it, my hand starts to ache immediately. Why wait for surgery? I don’t see hope for recovery in my situation with continuing on with the brace. I know recovery is not easy, but living like this isn’t easy either.

      1. Terri, We understand the challenges you’re facing with thumb arthritis and the frustration of not finding relief despite wearing a brace. While we are not medical professionals, wearing a brace can be a cost-effective way to alleviate pain and improve joint function. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare provider to explore all available options tailored to your specific needs. Remember, each individual’s journey towards recovery is unique, and finding the right treatment approach may require patience and persistence. Stay positive and keep communicating with your healthcare team to find the best path towards improved comfort and mobility.

  4. my name is Donna I’m 59 years old and I’m not able to find the right kind of brace for my hands due to the brace rubs up on the thumb and wrist causing more pain what should I due to help me slow the process down I’ve done everything I can without surgery

    1. Hi Donna
      I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing pain in your thumbs. We understand how frustrating it can be when you’re unable to find the right brace. We appreciate your efforts in trying to alleviate the pain without surgery. As we are not medical professionals, we suggest that you discuss your condition with your healthcare provider or a Certified Hand Specialist who can recommend a thumb brace that would be right for you. To find a a certified hand therapist in your area please visit http://www.htcc.org.

      You may also want to explore our selection of thumb splints at ohmyarthritis.com/thumb-splints. Our line of thumb braces are designed by a hand care specialist specifically to provide comfort, support and relief for thumb and wrist pain. We hope this information helps, and we wish you the best in finding relief for your thumb pain.

  5. i had the thumb on my right hand fused and now the thumg on my left hand turns out making it difficult to play the piano is there a brace or splint that turns the thumb to the pinching position

    1. Hi Nancy, I’m sorry to hear that your thumbs are making it difficult to play the piano. As we are not medical professionals, we suggest that you discuss your condition with your healthcare provider or a Certified Hand Specialist who can recommend a thumb brace that would be right for you. To find a a certified hand therapist in your area please visit http://www.htcc.org. I hope you find relief soon.

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