Thumbs get a lot of action. In fact, a good majority of normal tasks would not be possible without the proper use of the first digits of our hands. For this reason alone, any issues that affect the movement of the thumb(s) could serve as a major hindrance in daily life.
The first carpometacarpal (CMC) is named for the bones that make up the base joint of the thumb: the trapezium, one of the small carpal bones of the wrist, and the metacarpal, the longest bone of the thumb. The first CMC is the most common site for arthritis in the hand, and when it occurs here, it can also be called basal joint arthritis.
CMC arthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects and covers the joints wears out, which causes these bones to grind against each other. This grinding will lead to a painful sensation at the base of the thumb that is most frequently felt when trying to pinch or grip something tightly, or when holding a small item. It can also result in swelling, decreased strength and range of motion.
These symptoms can make seemingly simple maneuvers much more difficult, and may interfere with normal life as a result. If the condition continues to progress, the CMC joint may completely degenerate and slip out of place, which will complicate matters even further.
Fortunately, occupational therapy can help, and therapists at Advanced Rehab Solutions in Springfield, NJ are equipped to manage your CMC arthritis with a program that will decrease pain and increase function. Highlights of treatment will include:
- Range of motion and stretching exercises to improve the ability of the thumb to move about more freely
- Strengthening exercises for the arm and hand, designed to help steady the hand and protect the thumb from shock and stress; these exercises will also improve joint stability and prevent deformity in the thumb
- A brace or splint may be fabricated to support the thumb and reduce pain
- Occupational therapists will give you specific tips on how to accomplish your daily tasks with less strain on your joints
- It’s also advised that you significantly reduce any activities that require heavy or repetitive gripping with the hand
The amount of time to recover varies for each individual, but many patients progress to a home program within 4-6 weeks of treatment. If you’ve been experiencing any pain at the base of your thumb that’s been getting in the way of your daily life, Advanced Rehab Solutions in Springfield, NJ is here to help. Call 973-379-7006 for more information or to schedule an appointment.