Why Does My Thumb Hurt?

By Julia Guthart CHT/OT

Why Does My Thumb Hurt?

One of the most common reasons for thumb pain is “Trigger Thumb” where a tendon “locks” or “clicks” as it passes through a pulley or tunnel. This painful area is located on the underside of the thumb and is sometimes worse in the morning. Sometimes you feel a ball or bump in the area. Home remedies include heat or ice for 10 minutes and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen.

Thumb Pain

Thumb painful – skeleton x-ray

Another common source of thumb pain is arthritis and affects the base of your thumb. Sometimes there is swelling or a “bump” in the area. Home remedies include a splint from a discount pharmacy to support the thumb and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Texter’s Thumb is another source of pain and involves the tendons that pass over the wrist and thumb on the backside of the hand/wrist. Taking a break from texting or video games is helpful as are the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and splinting.

Thumb Pain – Game Keeper’s Thumb

A common injury that causes thumb pain is “skier’s thumb” or “game keeper’s thumb” and involves a ligament sprain of the thumb joint. This injury can be caused by a simple fall – you don’t have to have been skiing to get it. It might be painful when you try to lift a glass of water or a larger jar with that hand. This needs evaluation by a physician.
Nothing makes you aware of clichés like a painful thumb…” sticks out like a sore thumb” comes to mind when everything you try to do hurts your thumb.

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