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.

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.


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

  1. 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. 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

      You may also want to explore our selection of thumb splints at 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.

  3. 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 I hope you find relief soon.

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