What is Thumb Arthritis?
Thumb CMC arthritis, also called basal joint arthritis, is osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb. It is a common condition that occurs more often in women than men. Unlike most joints which have an inherent stability from the way the bones fit together, the basal joint receives much of its stability from ligaments. This makes women, who often have more laxity in their ligaments than men, more susceptible to CMC arthritis. The thumb CMC joint is the most important joint of your hand; it allows your thumb to oppose to pick up and manipulate objects.
What Causes Thumb Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis of the thumb is caused by the demands of daily life. Over time, wear and tear on these small joints, especially when pinching, can stress the cartilage by wearing it down, which causes pain and swelling.
The thumb functions like a lever. For example, when you hold a pen with one pound of pressure, it translates to 13 pounds of pressure at the base of the thumb. So it's easy to understand why this joint wears out over time.
Hyper-extension of the thumb is also a damaging stress to this joint and can lead to instability. An example of this is pushing yourself up from a seated position on your extended fingers and thumb.
What Are Thumb Arthritis Symptoms?
Thumb arthritis is characterized by pain in the palm and at the base of the thumb. You may experience pain in the thumb joint when pinching and holding things. Dropping objects is also a common complaint. You may notice stiffness, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Weakness can develop as the condition progresses due to increased instability of the joint. To minimize additional damage to your joints, it is best to seek treatment early for basal joint arthritis.
What Is Energy Conservation and How Can It Help My Thumb Pain?
When you have thumb pain, simple activities can take longer and use more energy. Energy conservation is using the energy you have each day wisely and efficiently to accomplish the tasks that are most important to you. Understanding the principles of energy conservation will allow you to function longer and with less pain.
An important energy conservation tip is to pace yourself and protect your joints by scheduling extra time for a short rest break when you're doing a task that involves using your hands. The key is to take a break for a few minutes before you feel tired or sore. Treat Yourself Therapy's Thumb Arthritis treatment program includes several more principles of energy conservation and examples of how to apply them to your daily life.
What is Joint Protection and How Can It Help My Thumb Arthritis?
Joint protection techniques decrease the stress to your joints, which in turn, will help to decrease pain and inflammation. Learning the principles of joint protection will allow you to problem solve to find new ways to accomplish the tasks that cause you pain. Practical application of the principles lets you use your hand with less pain. Click on the free tip tab to watch a video to learn a principle of joint protection. The thumb arthritis treatment video includes an in depth discussion of the joint protection principles and over 30 examples of how to incorporate them into your day.
Thumb Arthritis Splints:
Splints can be helpful because they support the thumb in an optimum position during activities. This supported position helps to reduce pain and decrease the destructive forces to the thumb that occur over time. There are many options available from prefabricated commercial splints to custom splints made by a hand therapist. Depending on your symptoms, the splint may need to immobilize your wrist and your whole thumb but most often your wrist and the tip of your thumb can be free. An appropriate splint may be rigid or soft depending on your needs. Various options of splinting are discussed in detail in the thumb arthritis exercisevvideo.
My arthritis pain had become very bad, but I was hesitant to seek help. A friend suggested the TYT's thumb arthritis treatment video. The streaming was easy to do and I quickly started following the suggestions of the therapists. At this point, with the heat and basal thumb arthritis exercises, I'm pretty comfortable all day long, and am glad to have found the video and the excellent advice.
Joanie, Coplay, VA
The thumb arthritis exercise video is very good! The information is straight forward, clear, and concise and the production quality is great. Jessica and Kathleen are professional, knowledgeable, and personable. I think this is a great product!
Lynn Barck, Physical Therapist, Salt Lake City, UT
I have reviewed all of Treat Yourself Therapy's videos. I find the information to be accurate, up to date, and valuable for people with these conditions. I am recommending them to my patients.
G.M.Holcomb, D.O., Lake Orion, MI