Understanding thumb arthritis
Thumb Arthritis (1st Carpometacarpal Osteoarthritis or 1st CMC OA), is a common condition that affects the base of the thumb, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced hand function. This condition can impact daily activities, making it essential to understand its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and strategies for management.
Causes of thumb arthritis
Thumb arthritis primarily results from the gradual deterioration of the joint at the base of the thumb. Several factors can contribute to the development of this condition:
Ageing: As individuals age, the cartilage in the thumb joint may deteriorate, leading to arthritis.
Genetics: A family history of osteoarthritis can increase the risk of developing 1st CMC OA.
Repetitive Use: Repeated thumb movements, especially those involving pinching and gripping, can accelerate joint degeneration.
Symptoms of thumb arthritis
Thumb arthritis presents with a range of symptoms that can vary in severity:
Pain: Persistent pain at the base of the thumb, particularly during activities like gripping, pinching, or lifting.
Stiffness: Reduced thumb mobility and difficulty with tasks that require fine motor skills.
Weakness: Weakening of grip strength, impacting the ability to grasp objects firmly.
Swelling: Swelling and tenderness at the base of the thumb.
Diagnosis of thumb arthritis
Consult with an expert: An Accredited Hand Therapist is a physiotherapist or occupational therapist with expertise in the finger, hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Diagnosing thumb arthritis typically involves:
Medical History: Your Accredited Hand Therapist will enquire about your symptoms, medical history, and any relevant activities or injuries.
Physical Examination: A physical examination to assess pain, stiffness, and range of motion in the affected thumb.
Imaging: X-rays or other imaging studies may be performed to evaluate the extent of joint damage and confirm the diagnosis.