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Thumb Arthritis

Thumb arthritis is a common condition that affects the joint at the base of your thumb. As the name suggests, it occurs when the cartilage that cushions your thumb joint wears away over time, causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness. This can make it difficult to grasp and use objects, perform everyday tasks, and even twist or turn your wrist.

typical causes:

While thumb arthritis can affect anyone, it is most common in people over the age of 50. One of the primary causes of thumb arthritis is wear and tear that occurs over time. Other contributing factors of thumb arthritis include genetics and previous injuries to the thumb. It is important to note that arthritis is a normal part of aging. Numerous studies show a high number of individuals develop arthritis without experiencing symptoms. Early detection and treatment can be beneficial for successfully managing thumb arthritis. 

how physical therapy can help:

Physical therapy can be a lifesaver for those struggling with this condition. With the help of a licensed physical therapist, patients learn exercises that can restore mobility of the thumb, strengthen surrounding musculature, and work on restoring proper function of the hand and thumb. Additionally, physical therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation through various strategies including manual therapy techniques, use of equipment, and education. While it may take time and dedication, physical therapy can provide patients with the tools and techniques they need to live a more comfortable and functional life.

Ready to get moving? Contact us today to schedule an assessment.

exercises that may help reduce pain:

If you experience more pain with these exercises, hold off from that particular movement.

Thumb Opposition – While starting with your hand in an open position, move your thumb towards the tip of your pointer finger. Once they meet, open your hand back up and then move your thumb towards your middle finger. Repeat this for the ring and pinky finger. Perform this 15-20 times and complete this exercise 3-5 times a day.

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Thumb Abduction/Adduction – Start by placing your thumb against the side of your pointer finger. From there, move the thumb in the direction your palm is facing and then bring it back to the starting position. Stay within a range that is comfortable and avoid pushing it to a range that produces moderate or severe pain. Perform 15-20 repetitions and repeat this 3-5 times a day. 

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Thumb Flexion/Extension – While having your palm face you, move your thumb towards the center of the palm and away from the palm. Stay within a comfortable range and avoid pushing it to a range that produces moderate or severe pain. Perform 15-20 repetitions and repeat this 3-5 times a day. 

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