Without a thumb, people are not able to use their hand properly, because the inconspicuous finger plays a hidden main role. However, this is only noticed when the thumb no longer works as it should. One reason for this can Thumb pain caused by injuries or joint wear.
As a rule, all painful symptoms that occur in the area of the fingers and thumbs are referred to as thumb pain.
Thumb pain: this is a broad term, it includes all painful conditions in the area of the thumb. Most of the time the symptoms are punctiform and there is swelling, tenderness or pulling pain.
The mobility of the thumb is restricted and there are problems gripping and holding objects. Other symptoms include neck tension, back pain, hands falling asleep and forearm pain. Thumb pain usually results from injuries or inflammation of tendons, muscles, bones, ligaments or joints.
The causes of thumb pain are complex. Usually different diseases are the trigger for the complaints. These range from fractures, also known colloquially as hernias, to sprains, torn ligaments, inflammation and nerve disorders.
Chronic diseases of the bones and joints can also be a trigger for thumb pain. As different as the causes can be, so are the respective symptoms. Since the thumb is always in use, it is not uncommon for ligament tears, fractures and sprains to occur. This happens in connection with accidents, falls or when the thumb is subjected to increased force.
The result is swelling, redness, severe pain and limited mobility of the finger or the entire hand. Another cause of thumb pain is joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Joint wear can also occur in the hand and lead to pain and restricted mobility.
In terms of pain, thumb pain is similar to that caused by acute inflammation of the joints. Here, rheumatoid arthritis and reactive arthritis are examples. Both are caused by bacterial infections of the intestinal and urinary tract that have already subsided, as well as by fungi or bacteria. These get into the bloodstream through open wounds and from there into the joints.
Inflammation can lead to redness, swelling and warming of the affected area in addition to the pain. A well-known cause of thumb pain is also gout - a metabolic disease in which uric acid crystals are deposited in the joints. This condition affects the mobility of the joints and causes pain.
Tendonitis, an irritation of the tendons in the thumb muscles, is also common. The trigger for this disease is usually simply overwork. Small bumps in the hand area, so-called over-legs, can press on surrounding muscles, nerves and ligaments and also cause pain in the thumb.
Thumb pain can lead to a variety of complications that start with the pain and move on to therapy. Without the full functionality of the thumbs, everyday tasks and processes become a real challenge.
All gripping processes and thus almost everything that is done with the hands only take place with the support of the thumb. If that doesn't work as usual, thumb pain feels like a hindrance. After all, normal eating, drinking and personal hygiene are no longer possible without a thumb.
Those affected often feel helpless and frustrated. The irritability increases and there are primarily psychological complications. Because those affected are already overwhelmed with everyday things, the joy of life decreases. It is not uncommon for sufferers to fall into depression.
Usually, however, thumb pain is a temporary discomfort that can be remedied with therapies and treatments. A sense of relief follows. Complications can also come with medications taken for pain relief. These can cause side effects such as headache, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal problems.
Since the thumb is such an important part of the body, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible if thumb pain persists. A visit to the family doctor is particularly advisable after accidents or falls. If necessary, he or she will refer the patient to surgeons or orthopedists and sports medicine specialists.
For pain relief, prescription tablets are prescribed. A visit to the doctor is important in order to rule out secondary diseases. If fractures, torn ligaments, joint diseases or tendinitis are not examined and treated, these can lead to malformations or permanent limb limitations.
If the symptoms can be well described, an initial diagnosis of possible causes of the thumb pain is possible at an early stage. Thumb pain can be pulling, stabbing, shooting or piercing. Some sufferers feel the pain the entire time, others with small movements such as grasping or stretching.
Swellings usually indicate torn ligaments, fractures or sprains. An imaging procedure is usually used to confirm the suspicion and to make a finding. This mainly includes x-rays and ultrasound. These examination methods are also used if a joint disease is suspected. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI for short, or computed tomography, or CT for short, can also help in making the diagnosis. Bone diseases and tumors are also detected during MRI and CT.
If tendinitis is suspected, an exact diagnosis can be made via ultrasound. If inflammation, gout, or arthritis are possible causes of the thumb pain, blood tests will help. The laboratory blood tests can detect inflammation levels in the blood. An increased uric acid level, which can lead to gout, can also be determined by a blood test.
The therapy and treatment of thumb pain depends on the cause. If the thumb pain comes from a fracture, a torn ligament, a tendonitis or a sprain, the hand is primarily immobilized. Usually this is done with a splint or a plaster cast.
In the case of fractures, it is usually necessary to straighten the bone so that it can grow back together normally. Physiotherapy often follows accidents and acute injuries. This includes special exercises that are performed with the hand and especially the thumb. This ensures that functionality and mobility are fully restored. Torn ligaments that cannot grow back together properly are usually operated on.
The attending physicians also prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs and cooling compresses to relieve the pain. If joint diseases are more advanced, the joint is often replaced by joint prostheses. Naturopathy is also a possible therapy. Alternative treatment methods such as osteopathy, massage, acupuncture or rolfing can relieve discomfort in ligaments and muscles and relieve pain.
Rolfing is a specific type of manual body work with a focus on the fascia network. For arthritis, gout or rheumatism, therapeutic fasting, a balance of the acid-base balance of the body and Schüssler salts are often recommended. However, natural healing agents are usually not a panacea and should rather be used in conjunction with current therapy and treatment.
Thumb pain is usually short-lived and only occurs temporarily. Often times they don't even need treatment. In most cases, it is sufficient to rest the thumb, rest and cool down if there is pain. If more serious illness or inflammation is the trigger for thumb pain, a doctor should examine the finger more closely.
This also applies to thumb pain that occurs over a long period of time or when the pain becomes unbearable. In these cases self-healing is more likely to be impossible and the pain can even get worse. It is imperative that they receive medical treatment and therapy in order to prevent secondary diseases.
Often times, women during menopause suffer from thumb pain. However, this is completely normal and the symptom usually disappears on its own after the menopause. In the case of osteoarthritis, inflammation-related pain in the thumb or fractures, torn ligaments and the like, comprehensive treatment should be given by a doctor. Otherwise, it can lead to more serious complications.
There is no preventive measure against thumb pain in this sense. If pain occurs, a doctor should be visited so that the causes can be found and treated as quickly as possible. In the case of thumb pain, injuries or excessive strain are often the cause of the symptoms. It is best to avoid activities that strain the wrists or at least limit them.
A healthy diet can also promote health in general, including joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. In order to protect the joints and avoid thumb pain in the first place, finger exercises can be done. You can try everything that stretches a little and brings variety to the hand. In everyday life, heavy loads should be evenly distributed between both hands.
People tend to do everything with one hand, depending on whether they are right or left handed. Heavy loads are easiest to carry with your joints with a firm grip instead of outstretched fingers. In fact, daily cell phone and smartphone use can also damage the joints in the thumb. As a preventive measure, the device should be set aside from time to time during the day. So-called tapes, attached to the thumb, can restrict the mobility of the thumb joint and thus protect it.
In everyday life, people often perform the same movements over and over again. Be it when working in the office, around the house or even typing and swiping on the smartphone. In addition, the movements are usually quite fast and the thumb is overused every day. The movements are one-sided and damage the joints.
But one-sided and rapid movement sequences also lead to muscles and fasciae sticking together permanently. They become stiff, adamant, and overstretched. Mobility is restricted and thumb pain can occur. Sufferers can integrate special exercises into their everyday life to stretch the shortened fascia and muscle cords.
The attending physician is familiar with such exercises, or they are shown and taught in physiotherapy. Many helpful tips and exercises can also be found on the Internet. In general, care should be taken that the thumbs are not stressed too much in everyday life. This is certainly difficult at the beginning, but it also develops a different body feeling. If you have thumb pain, you can also use tapes. These have both preventive and therapeutic effects.