Hand Therapy Week

June 1-5, 2015

Thumb Pain Thursday!!

People frequently develop thumb pain because this joint allows a great deal of motion.  But, because of all the mobility in the thumb, it tends to wear down and degenerate quickly.  Let’s have a look at some of the most common thumb problems:

CMC Arthritis

The CMC joint is where the bone at the base of your thumb attaches to the wrist.  Arthritis develops there more frequently in women than in men.  Conservative treatment includes constructing a custom splint to support that joint, using paraffin wax to heat the joint and reduce pain and then attempting isometric strengthening to return function to the thumb.  It these techniques are not effective, your physician may use cortisone injections or surgery for pain relief and improved function.

cmc arthritis


cmc splint


DeQuervain’s Tendinitis

If you experience pain and swelling over the back of the thumb and wrist, you may have DeQuervain’s tendinitis.  This occurs where two thumb muscles come down the back of the forearm and pass to the thumb at a sharp angle.  If you perform repetitive thumb movements such as using scissors or opening jars, this problem may develop.  In therapy, we would construct a wrist/thumb splint to rest and support the area.  When the symptoms have reduced, we work on strengthening the thumb back to a functional level.

opponens splint







Thumb Sprain

One of the more frequent injuries to the thumb is a sprain of the Ulnar Collateral ligament.  It is referred to as Skier’s Thumb as it can occur when people fall while holding onto an object such as ski pole.  Conservative treatment is attempted before surgery.  A custom splint will stabilize the ligament for 3-6 weeks.  This is followed with increasing range of motion in the thumb and increasing grip and pinch strengths.  If that is not successful, surgery may be appropriate to repair the ligament.

ucl thumb









Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding thumb or hand pain.  Our Certified Hand Therapist, Michele Jarzynka,  can help you with these or any other hand problems you may have.