Thumb Osteoarthritis

Have you been told you have osteoarthritis? Do you have pain in your thumb when you use it, such as gripping objects and opening jars? Have you been told there is nothing you can do about it?

We use our hands for all activities in daily life! So, we need to ensure that our hands are well cared for, and we can use them for as long as possible!

The thumb joint, also known as the carpometacarpal joint, is a complex joint that has limited support anatomically, especially in women. The joint is made of two bones that are covered in cartilage that allow for a wide range of smooth movement. As we age the bones and cartilage undergo natural damage due to wear and tear. This wear and tear results in the progressive loss of cartilage resulting in the bones rubbing together. When this occurs the bones grind and rub together resulting in friction and bone/joint damage. This is what causes the grinding, gritty sensation and lots of pain.

When the bones grind together bony fragments disperse in the joint capsule which then reform into new bone along the sides of the existing bones. These new bony developments are called bone spurs or osteophytes. These are what causes the noticeable bumps and lumps at the joint of the thumb. In extreme circumstances severe joint changes occur which impact on the other joints within the thumb and wrist.

There is no cure for arthritis, however our therapists at Specialists On Hand can provide therapy regimes that can assist in reducing pain and inflammation and slow the progression and deformity of thumb osteoarthritis and potentially avoid the need for surgery. Our treatment regimes include:

  • Anti-inflammatory management
  • Oedema/swelling management
  • Activity modification and ergonomic education
  • Soft tissue massage and myofascial release
  • Personalised wrist and thumb splints to suit your needs
  • Kinesio-taping
  • Tailored exercise and strengthening programs
  • Neurostimulation using Inter-X and TENS machine.

Contact us if you wish to speak to one of our specialised therapists! We will create a personalised treatment regimen, so you are able to continue with your regular activities and do what you do best!


Picture 1: Thumb arthritis, by Jo Marsh, 2018

Picture 2: Thumb arthritis, by Mayo Clinic, 2020

Copyright 2020 by Mayo Clinic