Is thumb pain a sign of arthritis?

Is thumb pain a sign of arthritis?
Is thumb pain a sign of arthritis?

Is thumb pain a sign of arthritis is a common question we get as physical therapists.

Yes, thumb pain can be a sign of arthritis, specifically a condition known as thumb arthritis or basal joint arthritis.

Thumb arthritis typically affects the basal joint, which is the joint at the base of the thumb where it connects to the wrist (the carpometacarpal joint).

This type of arthritis can cause various symptoms, including:

  1. Pain: Persistent pain, particularly at the base of the thumb, is a common symptom of thumb arthritis. This pain may worsen with activities that involve gripping or pinching.
  2. Swelling: Inflammation of the thumb joint can lead to swelling and tenderness in the thumb area.
  3. Stiffness: Thumb arthritis can result in reduced range of motion in the thumb joint, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
  4. Weakness: Over time, thumb arthritis can lead to weakness in the thumb, which can affect your ability to grasp objects firmly.
  5. Loss of Function: In advanced cases, thumb arthritis can significantly impact thumb function, making it challenging to perform activities that require fine motor skills.

Most people think arthritis is a life sentence and will need medication or just live with it.  However, this is not the case and interventions such as specialized physical therapy can be highly beneficial in helping pain and function.

If you are experiencing persistent thumb pain or any of these symptoms, especially if they worsen over time or interfere with your daily activities, it’s important to consult a healthcare provider.

Physical therapists cannot perform x-rays or provide a diagnosis but we can help with pain, weakness and function to uncover the underlying why.

Early diagnosis and intervention can help manage symptoms and improve thumb function.


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!