What are symptoms of thumb arthritis?

What are symptoms of thumb arthritis?
What are symptoms of thumb arthritis?

What are symptoms of thumb arthritis is a common question we get as physical therapists.

Thumb arthritis, also known as basal joint arthritis or carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthritis, can cause various symptoms.

These symptoms often develop gradually and worsen over time.

Common symptoms of thumb arthritis include:

  1. Pain: Pain at the base of the thumb is a hallmark symptom of thumb arthritis. This pain is typically felt when gripping or pinching objects, and it may be aching, sharp, or throbbing in nature.
  2. Swelling: Inflammation of the thumb joint can lead to swelling or enlargement at the base of the thumb. This can make the thumb appear swollen and may be tender to touch.
  3. Stiffness: Thumb arthritis can lead to reduced range of motion in the thumb joint. You may find it difficult to move your thumb, especially when trying to grasp objects or perform tasks that require fine motor skills.
  4. Weakness: As the arthritis progresses, weakness in the thumb may become noticeable. This can affect your ability to perform everyday activities that involve the use of your thumb.
  5. Decreased grip strength: Thumb arthritis can lead to a decrease in grip strength, making it challenging to hold onto objects or perform tasks that require a strong grip.
  6. Clicking or popping sensation: Some individuals with thumb arthritis may experience a clicking or popping sensation when they move their thumb. This can be due to changes in the joint’s structure.
  7. Difficulty with pinching or grasping: Activities like buttoning a shirt, opening jars, or turning doorknobs can become more challenging due to thumb arthritis.
  8. Loss of thumb function: In severe cases, thumb arthritis can lead to a significant loss of thumb function, impacting your ability to perform daily tasks effectively.

It’s important to note that symptoms can vary in severity from person to person. If you suspect you have thumb arthritis or are experiencing symptoms like those mentioned above, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Treatment options can range from conservative measures like splints and medications to more invasive interventions like surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. Early 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!