Thumb Arthritis (Osteoarthritis) is a common condition involving instability and degeneration of the thumb carpometacarpal joint. This can cause significant pain. At Action Rehab our Hand Therapists are experienced in the non-surgical treatment of this painful and common condition.
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Thumb arthritis is a very common condition that involves the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb. This joint is made up of the Metacarpal and the Trapezium bone.
Thumb arthritis is wear and tear of the joint. As we use our thumbs we put a large amount of stress through the joint and this damages the ligaments that stabilise the joint and then rubs away the cartilage in the joint.
View the video below to learn more about ‘Facebook thumb’. As explained by Action Rehab founder Ben Cunningham.
When people have thumb arthritis they describe a “ring” of pain around the base of the thumb near the wrist. Initially the pain is occasional and it is often when you have been doing heavy gripping or activities like pinching or pruning. Gardening often sets off the pain. Typing can also cause thumb arthritis pain.
The Hand Therapists at Action Rehab can refer you for X-rays if required and our experienced therapists can assess the severity of the arthritis or instability.
Thumb arthritis and thumb instability may be assisted initially with a custom thumb brace. Hand Therapists at Action Rehab are skilled in the fabrication of these orthoses, and they can advise you on when and how to wear them. The goal of the splint is to hold the carpometacarpal joint in the most comfortable position and take stress and pressure off the joint.
It is important when you have thumb arthritis that you choose an experienced therapist for your treatment. Therapists at Action Rehab are highly trained and experienced in the assessment and treatment of thumb arthritis.
Known for providing treatment for thumb arthritis and other hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries Action Rehab are Melbourne’s reputable hand therapists.
How common is thumb arthritis?
A. Base of thumb joint pain and instability is very common in women.
How is thumb arthritis caused?
A. Thumb arthritis is caused by instability of the ligaments of the base of the thumb, load of the muscles of the thumb, overuse of the thumb joint and then degeneration of the cartilage of the joint. Generally it happens in the non-dominant hand because it is our “holding hand” and will often hold the load while our dominant hand does the fine motor tasks.
Is it a serious condition?
A. The thumb makes up 60% of hand function so injury, pain, swelling and instability of the thumb can mean that a person might lose 60% of their function. This is a very serious and debilitating injury. The sooner thumb instability is treated then the better the result and the less degeneration there will be in the joint.
Ben Cunningham is currently the Hand Therapist at Melbourne Football Club (AFL) and the director of Action Rehab. Ben has over 20 years’ experience providing hand and upper limb therapy, including working in the United Kingdom at the Queen Victoria Hospital and as the senior clinician at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.