At Sarasota Orthopedic Associates we are often asked, “My thumb hurts, is this part of aging? Must I live with it or can something be done?” The good news is a resounding YES THERE IS HELP and treatment is typically non-invasive.
Thumb pain is common among females over the age of 50. It can occur as a result of several factors: family history, repetitive pinching, twisting and turning activities, and history of trauma to the thumb. One of the most common joints in the hand to develop osteoarthritis is the thumb. In osteoarthritis there is gradual reduction of joint space. As we continue use of our hands, small muscles around the basal joint of the thumb work hard to compensate for instability. Ligaments also tend to show changes. The wear and tear of the joint exacerbates pain intensity resulting in patients modifying the way they pinch and/or delegating activities or worse, simply giving up on activities they enjoy.
Symptoms of thumb arthritis can be pain with pinching or gripping activities. Usually patients experience pain while turning keys/door knobs, writing or typing, and opening jars or lids. Pain might also occur during rest.
Treatment for thumb arthritis can be operative or non-operative. Non-operative measures could include cortisone injection for pain reduction or a consultation with a hand therapist.
At Sarasota Orthopedic Associates, hand therapy consultation includes comprehensive evaluation to understand the activities that cause pain. It also includes measuring the range of motion and strength in both hands. Your hand therapist might fabricate a customized brace to rest the affected joints. Patient education is the most important part of treatment. Our hand therapists will educate you on various pain management strategies, activity modification, or a customized brace to immobilize the wear and tear on the joints. If range of motion is affected we can teach stretching and dynamic stabilization exercises to strengthen the small muscles of hand. Additionally, there are joint protection techniques to reduce stress in the affected joints.
Success of conservative management depends on several factors such as intensity of the arthritis and patient compliance in following through with the therapist recommendations.
Don’t give up on your thumb discomfort. Sarasota Orthopedic Associates has Certified Hand Therapists in all of our three locations. Check out our website at www.SOA.md where you may make an appointment online or call 941-951-2663. We offer same day appointments when necessary.