Orthopedic Institute Blog

3 Common Causes of Thumb Pain

Posted on February 03, 2017

OI_BlogPosts_Jan17_ThumbPain_700x300.jpgYears of working hard and participating in your favorite hobbies can potentially take a toll on your body, especially your fingers. Think about how much strain you likely place on your hands over your lifetime. It’s no surprise, then, that many people start to feel aches and pains in their thumbs.   

Are you starting to feel pain or stiffness in your thumbs? Read into these three common causes of thumb pain. 

1. Trigger Thumb

Trigger thumb occurs when your thumb remains stuck in a bent position, as if squeezing a trigger. This occurs when tendons become irritated and swollen and can’t move easily. Sometimes a bump may form on the tendon, adding to movement difficulty. Farmers, musicians or people in industrial occupations commonly experience trigger thumb due to the heavy reliance and strain on their fingers.

Signs of trigger thumb include:

  • Snapping/popping sensation when moving the thumb
  • Swelling or bump in the palm
  • Inability to fully flex the thumb
  • Locking in the bent position, requiring help from the other hand to straighten
  • Pain and stiffness when bending
  • Soreness at the base of the thumb

2. De Quervain’s Tendinosis

When tendons at the base of the thumb become swollen or constricted, they may cause pain along the thumb side of the wrist.  De Quervain’s tendinosis may occur from overuse, but it’s also associated with pregnancy and rheumatoid disease.

Signs of De Quervain’s tendinosis include:

  • Primarily pain felt over the thumb side of the wrist, along with swelling
  • A snapping sensation when moving the thumb
  • Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist

3. Thumb Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis, but the type most often affecting the joint at the thumb’s base is osteoarthritis, a.k.a. “wear-and-tear” arthritis. This is found more often in women than men and tends to occur after 40 years of age. The most prominent symptom is pain at the base of the thumb when you grasp an object or apply force with your thumb.

Signs of thumb arthritis include:

  • Enlarged appearance at the joint of your thumb
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decreased grasping or pinching strength
  • Swelling or stiffness at your thumb’s base

Experiencing thumb pain?

We want to help. Contact us today at (605) 331-5890 or set up an appointment.

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