Why Does My Thumb Hurt?

Pain in your thumb could be a sign of injury, overuse, or arthritis. Treatment for mild pain usually involves at-home care and painkillers. 

In some cases, though, persistent thumb pain may be a sign of an underlying condition or an injury that needs more invasive treatments, such as injections and surgery.

We asked our team of orthopedic surgeons at The Hand Center to share a few of the most common triggers of thumb pain. Here are their answers.

Thumb injuries 

If you’re experiencing radiating pain after an injury, your thumb may be broken. Depending on the severity of your injury, your thumb may also look loose and unstable. 

Seek emergency care as soon as possible if you suspect that your thumb is broken. The treatment for a broken thumb usually involves undergoing surgery and wearing a cast for a few weeks.

Have you fallen on your thumb but feel only moderate pain? In that case, you may have stretched or damaged one of the ligaments in your appendage. The signs of a stretched or damaged ligament include swelling, bruising, and pain.

If upon examination, we determine that your injury is mild, you may require only ice, rest, and bandages to recover. But if you tore a ligament, you may need surgery to fix it.

Pain caused by arthritis 

Thumb arthritis is a condition caused by wear-and-tear in your thumb. This condition can develop for a variety of reasons, including regularly engaging in hobbies that require the use of your thumbs or having a job that involves a lot of typing. 

Low-grade inflammation can also cause thumb arthritis, which is more common in patients who are obese or overweight and those suffering from diabetes. Symptoms of thumb arthritis include pain, stiffness, enlarging of the joint, and loss of strength in the thumb. 

Pain caused by repetitive movements 

Overuse doesn’t always lead to arthritis. It can also lead to inflamed tendons, as in De Quervain’s tenosynovitis or stenosing flexor tenosynovitis

Conservative treatment methods for pain caused by repetitive movements include icing, rest, and painkillers. If the pain persists, we may recommend that you take injections, wear a splint, or get surgery. 

Find out what’s causing your thumb pain

To determine the cause of your symptoms, our experts at The Hand Center examine your thumb, look at your medical history, and use imaging. 

If you’re looking for relief from thumb pain, contact us to schedule an appointment and receive prompt treatment. We have four locations: Glastonbury, Hartford, Tolland, and Bloomfield, Connecticut.

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