thumbs up

Thumbs Up!

Your thumbs are involved in approximately 50% of all hand movements, so it will come as no surprise that when the thumb is painful or injured it becomes very difficult to use your hand!

Pain in your thumbs can be down to numerous causes and treatment for thumb pain will depend on which part of your thumb is hurting, what the pain feels like and how often your feel it.

That being said here are the 5 most common causes of thumb pain: –

  1. Thumb arthritis

It would be impossible for me not to mention that the human thumb is unique in the fact we can touch the tip of the thumb to the small finger – called opposition (opposable thumb)  This gives us the ability to use a pen, hand tools and a needle and thread!

Normal every day activities can cause wear and tear in the thumb, the cartilage wears away from the joint and without that essential cartilage the bones rub against each other causing pain and swelling.

Other symptoms include: –

  • Loss of grip strength
  • Loss of range of motion (mobility)
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness in the area
  • Burning or stabbing pain
  1. DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis

Also known as “gamer’s thumb” as it can result from a lot of time holding a game controller!

It is a painful condition affecting the tendons along the thumb side of the wrist which gets worse when moving the thumb or when pressure is applied to the area.  It is caused by swelling of the tendons that extend the thumb preventing them from gliding smoothly.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain on turning the wrist
  • Pain on making a fist
  • Pain at the base of the thumb
  • Swelling near the base of the thumb
  • Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist when that movement involves gripping or pinching
  • A sticking or “popping” sensation in the thumb when moving it
  1. Trigger thumb

This is another common cause of thumb discomfort. It causes pain along the palm side of the thumb.

If there is swelling or inflammation around the thumb tendon, it will not glide smoothly leaving the thumb to become swollen, stiff and very painful

Symptoms include:

  • Finger stiffness, especially first thing in the morning
  • Tenderness and swelling or a “bump” at the base of the thumb
  • A “popping” or clicking sensation on thumb movement
  • Thumb clicking, catching, or locking in a bent position
  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome

This condition is a type of pinched nerve. When the nerve is pinched, typically there is numbness and tingling in the thumb, index, middle and or ring fingers.  Initially symptoms come and go and are often worse at night.

Symptoms include: –

  • Burning pain in the thumb
  • Tingling in the thumb
  • “Electric shock” like sensations
  • Weakness in the thumb
  1. Skier’s thumb

Thumb sprains are a common injury that damages or tears the thumb’s connective tissues.  Most thumb sprains involve the main ligament at the base of the thumb on the inside of the hand.

During a fall, most people land on an outstretched hand to brace themselves.  This injury can occur when a skier falls on their hand whilst holding a ski pole. Unfortunately the ligaments in the thumb can become injured in this way.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain at the base of the thumb in the web space between thumb and finger
  • Inability to grasp or weakness between the thumb and index finger
  • Swelling
  • Bruising of the skin over the thumb
  • Tenderness to the affected area

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or