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Do you suffer from pain at the base of your thumb?

2nd May 2017
By Nicola Cook

Do you suffer from pain at the base of your thumb?

Do you have difficulty gripping or pinching objects?

Do you have pain in your thumb when you lean through your hand?

Do you have swelling, stiffness or tenderness at the base of your thumb?

Does the joint at the base of the thumb have an enlarged appearance?

Have you lost range of motion in your thumb?

The joint at the base of the thumb is called the CMC joint (carpometacarpal joint). It is formed where the metacarpal bone of the thumb attaches to the trapezium bone of the wrist. The CMC joins is particularly prone to developing osteoarthritis (OA). It is a very mobile joint and relies on the stability of the supporting muscles for its strength and alignment. When these supporting muscles are not strong or do not work in the ‘symphony’ in which they should, extra pressure is put through the base of the thumb and creates stresses in the joint. Initially the joint becomes inflamed and will be described as having developed capsulitis. As the extra stresses in the joint continue, the joint can then show some degenerative changes associated with OA. In your hand you may feel that the muscle in the web space of the thumb becomes tight and tender, the joint itself may become swollen or enlarged.

Hand Therapy can help in the management of CMC joint instability or osteoarthritis of this joint in many ways. Release techniques for the tight muscles, joint mobilisation techniques, exercises to reactivate then strengthen the supporting muscles of the thumb. Advice and education regarding functional use of the hand/thumb, and provision of taping, splints or orthotics to rest, support, protect and retrain the thumb as needed for each individual person.

If you have any of the above symptoms, don’t suffer at home – come in and see your local therapists in hand therapy for a few sessions to learn how to manage the condition and gain some relief and control over your symptoms. Help prevent it getting worse and keep yourself strong and functional.

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