Do you find yourself saying, “My thumb hurts“, when you are doing normal everyday tasks? Do you experience an ache at the base of your thumb after you have been using it? If you answered yes to either of these questions, and you are over the age of 40, you may have arthritis in the joint at the base of the thumb. Some common terms for this isolated joint dysfunction (for us medical people) or basal joint arthritis or 1st CMC arthritis.
Basal joint arthritis is caused from simple wear and tear (over time) of this joint. It can be very painful and very frustrating to deal with this problem. However, there are some simple tips regarding changes in your daily activities that can help you manage and control your pain.
– All kitchen utensils should have large handles. Smaller handles (the old-fashioned kind) are harder to grip and require abnormal forces through the thumb.
-An electric can opener should ALWAYS be used, and an assisstive device should be used for opening jars.
-Use half-gallon milk jugs instead of one gallon jugs.
-When driving, loosen your grip and relax your thumbs on the steering wheel instead of maintaining a tight grip.
-When taking wet clothes out of the washer, remove one piece at a time, gently loosening from sides of tub.
-Carry only one or two grocery bags at a time, or use a cart or wagon to transfer the load from car to house.
-All writing utensils should have a large, non-skid grip
–Spring-loaded scissors minimize stress at the CMC joint
-Instead of holding books or newspapers, prop them on a pillow in your lap, in a book holder, or on a table.
-In your kitchen cabinets and pantry, position heavy items in a convenient location; not too high, not too low.
-When carrying or lifting, LIGHTEN THE LOAD, OR ASK FOR HELP!
If following these simple guidelines does not give you relief, physical therapy may be an option to help manage this problem.
About the Author
Mary is a Certified Hand Therapist and Vice President of Production. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, spending time with family and friends, singing, and snake hunting. She is known as “Theater Mom” for Northside High School’s theater program. Her husband, Philip, is a Social Studies teacher at Northside. Together, they have two sons: Alex (21), a junior at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, studying theater and communications and Nick (17) a Senior at Northside High School with plans to pursue a career in musical composition. When asked what she loves most about her job, Mary responded, “I love to see the proud and excited look that comes over a patient’s face when they do an activity that they haven’t been able to do in a long time. Huge smiles and tears of joy often come with this. It’s great.”