Dr. Tamara Clancy answers your questions about thumb arthritis, also known as arthritis base of the thumb.
What is the painful bump at the base of my thumb?
This is more than likely wear-and-tear arthritis, and the bump is one of the bones (metacarpal) that becomes prominent as the joint wears out (cartilage thins).
What is the cause?
The cause is the cartilage in the joint thinning out. Some of this is genetic (inherited). Injury and joint laxity (being “double-jointed”) may contribute to developing this as well. It is also more common in women.
Is there any way to know if my pain will get worse?
No — this is a problem that usually gets worse as we get older, but there is no way to predict how rapidly the pain will progress in a particular person.
from Medical Daily
Whether we’re doing fingerprints or we’re battling in a “thumb war,” we often take one of, if not the most valuable digit for granted. The thumb allows us to grasp objects, hitch a ride, and text message. But how powerful and versatile is our thumb?
In the BBC Series “Dissected,” hand surgeon Donald Sammut demonstrates to presenter Dr. George McGavin what gives the thumb its unique abilities by dissecting the human hand. “The general arrangement of the human hand has two hills and a valley in the middle, and these two hills consist of muscle, and they serve the little finger and the thumb,” Sammut says in the video.
Sammut strips away the tissues that protect the vital structures of the palm to look at the thumb. It’s surrounded by fat, which covers all of the important structures that pass through, such as major arteries, nerves, and flexor tendons — tissues that help control movement in your hand. The thumb has no fewer than nine muscles that are solely dedicated to controlling it, contributing to the precision of this intricate muscle system.
Thumb arthritis, sometimes known as “basal joint arthritis” or “arthritis base of the thumb,” is a condition that is genetic and tends to come with age. Patients with thumb arthritis find it difficult to perform daily tasks such as opening a jar or turning a doorknob. The pain and swelling is found at the base of the thumb.
Watch this two-minute video to see how a quick surgery can relieve thumb arthritis symptoms if splints and injections do not work for you.
Dr. Sameer Puri answers your most important questions about stenosing tenosynovitis, also known as trigger finger.
My doctor told me I might have a “trigger finger.” What is that?
“Trigger finger,” or stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that causes pain, locking, popping or clicking of the fingers or thumb when the hand is opened or closed.
What causes trigger finger?
Muscles in your forearm attach to tendons that run all the way to the bones at the ends of your fingers. These muscles help you bend your fingers into a fist. In the hand, the tendons are held close to the bone by pulleys. If the pulleys become too tight or thick, or the tendon gets swollen, the tendon can get stuck. If the tendon cannot glide freely, trigger finger occurs.
What are some of the symptoms of trigger finger?
In its early stages, trigger finger can cause pain. Usually, it is tender on your palm where the finger joins the hand. Sometimes, you feel the pain further along or even on the back of the finger. You might feel like your hands or fingers are stiff or swollen. As it progresses, the tightness can cause the tendon to catch as it tries to glide, leading to a painful snapping sensation when making a fist or opening the hand. Eventually, the finger can get stuck where it is, making it really hard either to straighten or to bend it.
The symptoms are often worst in the mornings immediately after waking up and can occur in any of the fingers or thumbs.
I have pain in the palm of my hand at the base of my thumb. It hurts more when I try to open jars, and I frequently have to ask someone for help. Is there anything I can do to make this less painful?
Hand therapists discuss something called joint protection, which is all about – you guessed it – protecting your joints! Thumb pain can occur when there is joint inflammation and swelling. With the use of the right tools, you can perform the same tasks while minimizing or eliminating the pain. Tools to help with opening jars come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
For jars that have a vacuum seal (pasta sauces or jam jars), a device called a jar popper/jar key can help break the seal without stressing your thumb. This works similar to a church key for removing bottle tops. It catches the side of the lid and you use the leverage of the tool to release the vacuum. Once that is accomplished, opening the lid is much easier – and less painful!
That’s interesting. Does it work for pill bottles, too?
Good question! Because pill bottles don’t have a vacuum, it does not work for them; however, there is another option to help you out.