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What You Need to Know About Arthritis in Your Thumb

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your thumb, you may be dealing with thumb arthritis. Thumb arthritis is a condition where the joints in the thumb become inflamed and painful, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

Overview of thumb arthritis

Thumb arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the base of the thumb. It occurs when the cartilage in the joint wears down, causing the bones to rub against each other. Thumb arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world, and it typically develops as we age.

Women are more likely to develop thumb arthritis than men, and the condition is often found in individuals who have a history of joint injuries or genetic predisposition.

Additionally, repetitive hand motions or activities that place a lot of stress on the thumb joint, such as gripping or pinching, can increase the risk of developing thumb arthritis.

Symptoms of thumb arthritis

The most common symptom of thumb arthritis is pain, particularly at the base of the thumb. You may also feel tenderness and swelling around the joint, and experience a decreased range of motion in the thumb.

Other symptoms may include stiffness in the thumb, difficulty gripping objects, and a clicking or popping sound when you move your thumb.

As thumb arthritis progresses, you may experience a dull ache or throbbing pain that can extend up into the wrist or down into the thumb. In severe cases, the joint may become deformed, and you may experience a loss of strength and function in the affected thumb.

Treatment options for thumb arthritis

If you are diagnosed with thumb arthritis, there are a variety of treatment options available. Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments depending on the severity of your condition and your lifestyle.

1. Non-surgical options:
- Anti-inflammatory medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help relieve pain and inflammation associated with thumb arthritis.

- Hand therapy: Physical therapy or occupational therapy can help reduce pain and improve mobility in the thumb joint.

- Splinting: Your doctor may recommend a thumb splint or brace to stabilize the joint and alleviate pain.

- Corticosteroid injection: Injecting a corticosteroid into the affected joint can reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain.

- Topical creams: Over-the-counter creams containing capsaicin, salicylates, or menthol can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation.

2. Surgical options:

If non-surgical options do not provide relief or if your condition is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery.

- Joint fusion: In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and the bones are fused together to create one stable joint.

- Joint replacement: A prosthetic joint may be implanted in place of the damaged joint to improve mobility and reduce pain.

- Tendon transfer: This surgical option involves transferring a tendon from another part of the body to replace a damaged tendon in the thumb joint.


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