By Molly Cook, OTR/L, CHT
Osteoarthritis at the first carpometacarpal joint, or base of the thumb, can cause pain with use of the thumb. When the cartilage wears away from overuse or with time, the bones that create the joint at the base of the thumb can rub and cause pain. The amount of force put through to the base of the thumb is multiplied greatly when pinching or gripping with the thumb.
What can you do to reduce the pain at the base of the thumb?
- Use heat to reduce pain
- Maintain good range of motion
- “Work smarter, not harder”
-Use other parts of your arm to lift or carry objects when possible, which will reduce the use of the thumb, lessening the wear and tear as well as the pain
-Use tools and equipment to better utilize the larger joints of the upper extremity, reducing the force required from the thumb
-Possible tools/equipment include: rubber grippers to open jars, automatic can openers, gel ink pens, any many more.
What do we do in therapy to help reduce pain at the base of the thumb?
- Teach you how to prevent flare-ups and how to best decrease pain during a flare-up
- Fit you with custom-fit orthosis – helps to provide support and better positions the thumb during use of the hand
- Teach you home exercises- stretch tissues that become tightened and strengthen muscles that become weakened with osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb
If you would like to schedule a hand therapy appointment in Tulsa or Owasso, give us a call at 918-392-1552.