Osteoarthritis in the Base of Thumb

By Emma Bamford, Clinical Hand Therapy Specialist, Senior Chartered Physiotherapist, MSc, BSc (Hons) MCSP

Pain in the thumb due to osteoarthritis of the CMCJ (Carpometacarpal joint) is one of the most common hand complaints we see as hand therapists.

Symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Crunching or grinding in the joint
  • Bony Prominences or deformities of the thumb
  • Reduced range of movement
  • Reduced grip strength


Osteoarthritis is caused by wearing or degeneration of the joints. This degeneration leads to decreased cartilage and fluid in the joint, and causes the bony surfaces of the joint to start rubbing on each other.


When we pinch using our thumbs research has shown that the force you use to pinch is amplified by 12 times in the base of your thumb, and for some people this causes huge levels of pain which can and be at best irritating and at worst disabling.


At Central Health, our specialist Hand Therapy Clinics offer an in-depth assessment and an individualised treatment package to help you to manage your pain, improve your function, and get you back to doing the activities you enjoy.


We can give you advice on the best types of splints to use – and we can even make bespoke splints for you to use for specific activities, so that you get the right amount of support in exactly the right place, just when you need it.


We can talk to you about aids and adaptations, to make everyday tasks that little bit easier. We can also offer you advice on the correct exercises to do and may also suggest the use of acupuncture to help relieve pain in the short term. For more details, please contact us here


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