Experiencing pain from Thumb Arthritis? This may help

Amanda Gomes

Thumb arthritis is one of the most common places we first develop arthritis in the hand, also known as the carpometacarpal joint (CMC). Pain develops at the base of the thumb, close to the wrist. This pain can often be described as aching, sharp and even catching at times. Often worse with grasping and holding objects, making it difficult to function. No wonder! For every 1 pound we use to pinch from the tip of our thumb, we put 12 pounds of pressure through this CMC joint. On average, our daily lives require us to place between 5-7lbs of pinch on an object to complete a task.

Not to worry. Things can be done to minimize this pain and return to your activities. To do this we look at how someone uses their hand


  • Adaptive hand grasps and pinches.
    1. When able pinch with the tip of your fingers and thumb, rather than fingertips and the side of your thumb,
    2. Fine pinch tasks can be irritating, consider adding some foam grip tubing to your pen, or cooking utensil, a button helper when getting dressed. There are many different adaptive tools for writing, like the Pen Again, that can make writing more comfortable.
    3. Wide grasp tasks can also be difficult, consider a jar gripper, or a nonslip jar opener,
    4. Use pump bottles for soap and shampoo instead of squeeze bottles.
  • Strengthening.
    Strengthening the muscles around the CMC joint and neighboring thumb joint can better support the joints changing the pinching pattern and preventing additional stress on the joints causing pain. When we talk about strengthening, I don’t mean grab a squeeze ball and repeatedly grasp this to make yourself stronger (this pinch is likely what contributed to this painful grip). To determine the best exercises for you, see a Certified Hand Therapist.
  • Splinting.
    Splinting can be used for a wide variety of reasons. Things to consider, is this for resting or a specific task? Is it a short-term solution, or for long term wear? Would an over-the-counter brace work or would a custom splint better suit your needs?

These are not questions you are expected to have answers to on your own, working with a Certified Hand Therapist can help you determine the best course of action for you and your lifestyle!

Call us today at either of our two locations: Poseidon (204.927.2660) or Pembina (204.925.1030),
or book online at:
https://booking.medeohealth.com/panamrehab OR https://patient.medeohealth.com/booking/physiotherapy-pembina