How to treat thumb arthritis?

How to treat thumb arthritis?
How to treat thumb arthritis?

How to treat thumb arthritis is a common question we get as physical therapists.

Thumb arthritis, also known as basal joint arthritis or CMC (Carpometacarpal) joint arthritis, can be a painful condition.

Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and the recommendations of your healthcare provider.

Here are some common approaches to managing thumb arthritis:

  1. Medications:
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Prescription medications: In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications.
  2. Splints and Braces:
    • Thumb splints or braces: Wearing a splint or brace can help support the thumb joint and reduce stress on it, providing pain relief.
  3. Physical Therapy:
    • A physical therapist can teach you exercises to strengthen the thumb muscles and improve joint flexibility. These exercises can help relieve pain and maintain joint function.
  4. Corticosteroid Injections:
    • Your doctor may inject corticosteroids into the affected joint to reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from pain.
  5. Occupational Therapy:
    • An occupational therapist can suggest modifications to your daily activities to reduce stress on the thumb joint and make tasks easier to manage.
  6. Heat and Cold Therapy:
    • Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Heat may relax the joint, while cold can numb the area and reduce swelling.
  7. Topical Creams:
    • Some topical creams or ointments containing capsaicin or menthol can provide temporary relief when applied to the affected area.
  8. Lifestyle Modifications:
    • Avoiding activities that worsen symptoms, such as repetitive gripping or pinching motions, can help prevent further joint damage.
  9. Assistive Devices:
    • Using adaptive tools and devices designed to reduce stress on the thumb joint can make daily tasks easier. For example, using a jar opener or ergonomic tools.
  10. Surgery:
    • In severe cases where conservative treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be considered. Surgical options may include joint fusion, joint reconstruction, or joint replacement.


It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

They can assess the severity of your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatments to manage thumb arthritis and improve your quality of life.

Additionally, early intervention and lifestyle modifications can help prevent the progression of the condition.

Treatment options for thumb arthritis

Physical therapists can discuss health exercise programs for you but more specifically, we can help if you have a weak or painful grip. A systematic approach of proper testing to determine impairments, then manual therapy and muscular re-training is usually necessary to get better.

At PhysioFit of NC, we have the expert team in musculoskeletal conditions to help you to the fullest.

We provide a comprehensive treatment approach through our Grip Strength Program.  This includes manual therapy and exercises to improve finger and hand mobility and wrist stability. The primary goal of treatment is to address the underlying muscular imbalance issues and strength deficits causing impaired grip.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today so we can help you!