Thumb Joint Pain Physical Therapy
Physical therapy for thumb joint pain helps those suffering from thumb arthritis reduce their symptoms and enhance daily activities. Treatment may involve a combination of techniques such as massage, exercise and dry needling to loosen stiff muscles and joints.
Physiotherapy can also assist patients in avoiding aggravating their thumb arthritis by using devices and exercises that protect the joint. Your therapist can also demonstrate techniques to reduce strain on your hand and wrist.
Removable splints can provide joint protection and improved motion. Your therapist will select the splint that best suits your individual needs and condition.
A thumb splint can help restrict thumb motion and reduce inflammation. You may wear it overnight or periodically throughout the day for maximum benefit.
After surgery, you may need to wear a cast or splint for several weeks in order to give your hands time to rest and heal. Once the splint is taken off, a physical therapist can work with you on a rehabilitation program to regain strength and movement in your hand.
Your therapist can teach you easy exercises that can be done at home to increase range of motion and flexibility in your thumb. Do these two to three times a week, but always allow your hands at least 48 hours between sessions for resting.
Your therapist can perform several tests to determine if you have osteoarthritis. They might touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger and make an “O” shape or “D” shape with it, as well as using the traction-shift technique which involves pulling apart two ends of your thumb joints.
These tests can assist your therapist in diagnosing whether you have arthritis and selecting the most suitable treatment.
Thumb joint arthritis can be treated surgically, especially for those who do not respond to nonsurgical treatments. Your therapist can suggest a surgery that will relieve your pain and restore hand function.
Injection – If a thumb brace or anti-inflammatory medication do not provide you with relief, your therapist may suggest injecting a steroid medicine directly into your joint. This can be effective at relieving pain and swelling for up to one year.
Surgery – If you suffer from arthritis of the basal joint, your therapist may suggest reconstructive surgery to join or “weld” together the bones that make up its base. This can provide pain relief and restrict motion in your thumb; however, this procedure requires more involvement than nonsurgical treatments.
This study has demonstrated that a combination of joint mobilization, neural mobilization and exercise is more effective than a sham treatment at relieving pain in patients with CMC joint OA. Unfortunately, it did not affect pinch/grip strength or pressure pain thresholds (PPTs). Future studies should include additional therapists as well as measures of function and long-term outcomes.