Any sort of joint pain is troubling, of course, but thumb joint pain is especially bad. Most of us don’t really appreciate just how important our thumbs are until something goes wrong with one or both of them — especially when we’re constantly using them to operate a smart phone.
Here’s some information on why thumb joint pain occurs, and some safe remedies you can try at home to alleviate discomfort.
Why Thumb Joint Pain Occurs
Just about any job requires extensive use of the hands. Most everyday activities require you to use your thumbs a great deal, for that matter. This puts a great deal of stress on your thumb joint. A seemingly small issue can become a major problem relatively quickly because you’re using your thumbs so often.
You might find it extremely difficult simply to write a note, or to grab a doorknob.
The area of the thumb that tends to undergo the most strain is known as the carpometacarpal, or CMC joint. This is also known as the basal joint. The ligaments and tendons that surround this joint are susceptible to inflammation. And this inflammation can lead to big problems.1
Here are some of the more common issues:
A sprain or fracture can result in severe thumb joint pain.
If you’ve ever suffered a “jammed thumb,” what you actually did was sprain your thumb ligaments.2
Continual use of your thumb can lead to a wearing down of the joint. In some instances, this results in a breakdown of the joint cartilage, leading to thumb arthritis. Ligaments can also loosen, eventually wearing away the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones.3
A previous thumb injury can lead to a condition known as “basal thumb arthritis.” If you tend to feel more pain after grasping or pinching an object, this could be the reason why.4
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
CTS can be not only incredibly painful, but also debilitating. It can rob you of your ability to perform even the simplest tasks because it simply hurts too much. The main cause of CTS is compression of what is known as the median nerve. This compression occurs where the nerve runs along the wrist. Common symptoms are pain and tingling in the thumb and first finger, as well as numbness.5
If you have Thumb Joint Pain or suspect you may have one of the conditions mentioned above, you should consult your doctor or regular health care provider.
However, if you suffer more from discomfort or stiffness than actual pain, you might try some of the following.
Remedies for Thumb Joint Discomfort
If your thumb joint is causing you discomfort, there are a few things you can try in order to find relief.
For example, soaking your hand in Epsom salts could help relieve your thumb joint discomfort.
Epsom salts are rich in sulfates and magnesium, and quickly absorb through your skin.
They not only relax muscles – they may also help reduce inflammation.6
Dilute two cups of Epsom salts into a gallon of warm water, and let your hand soak for about 15 minutes.
There are several different herbal remedies you might find effective.
This herb has antioxidant properties that may help to inhibit the development of inflammation. In one study, people suffering from osteoarthritis who received a capsule containing a cat’s claw extract saw a reduction in their pain in less than one week.7
Devil’s claw (scientific name: Harpagophytum procumbens) is a plant whose tubers contain an extract which may help ease arthritic joint discomfort and stiffness.
In one study, researchers found that devil’s claw extract was effective in helping people who suffer discomfort from osteoarthritis.8
Oils from the seeds of several plants can help reduce joint discomfort. These plants include borage seed, primrose, and black currant. The seeds from these plants contain a type of unsaturated fatty acid known as gamma linoleic acid, or GLA.9 GLA is been shown to be effective in easing discomfort and stiffness.10
The name of this plant is definitely accurate, because it can sting. But this mild discomfort is worth it for many people suffering from joint soreness. The nettles contain histamine and serotonin, which may help to ease joint discomfort.11 Study participants suffering from thumb joint discomfort reported experiencing relief after applying stinging nettle leaf for one week.12
A study showed that people suffering from joint discomfort using willow bark extract saw a 14 percent reduction in pain after two weeks. Another group participating in the same study receiving a placebo saw a 2 percent increase in discomfort.13
Thumb joint pain can be incredibly frustrating. It can even rob you of your quality of life in severe cases. Your health care professional can help. If you’re suffering is more discomfort than pain, there are several home remedies, like these above, that you can use in an effort to relieve your discomfort. Before you try any of them, though, talk to your doctor first, to make sure they agree it’s safe for you to do so.