Proven Treatments for Relieving Thumb Arthritis

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The thumb is a very common location for arthritis in the hand. There is swelling and pain in the joint, and your strength and range of motion are negatively affected. Check out the following list for some ideas on how to treat it.


Ice is often used to treat thumb arthritis when it first appears. For immediate relief of pain, you put an ice pack on your thumb. Keep it there for about 15 minutes. This can be done several times a day.


Doctors often suggest that patients with thumb arthritis wear splints. They have two functions: supporting the thumb and reducing mobility. This allows the joint to rest, resulting in less pain. Some people wear splints just at night; others keep them on at all times.


Both prescription and over-the-counter medications are used to relieve the pain of thumb arthritis. Ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling, but they have more potential side effects than acetaminophen, which just relieves pain. A few prescription drugs, such as Celebrex, are available.


In severe cases, corticosteroid injections are prescribed. They are placed right into the thumb joint. Pain and swelling are reduced after the shot.


As a last resort, surgery may be an option. There are several types from which to choose. With joint fusion, the pain is gone, but the joint does not move. Your doctor might recommend a trapeziectomy; this procedure removes a bone in the thumb. You may opt to replace all or part of your joint using your own tendon tissue.

Arthritis in the thumb may eventually show up in people who work a lot with their hands, or there may be a genetic component that contributes to the development of the disease. Depending upon the severity of the problem, there are a number of possible treatments for thumb arthritis. Your doctor can recommend which would be most effective for you.

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