Osteoarthritis of the basal thumb CMC joint, which is the joint that attaches your thumb to the wrist is usually the first place arthritis shows up in women. There are 3 general catagories to managing your symptoms 1) Options for managing your pain 2) Ways to modify the activities that stress the thumb 3) Increaing mindfullness and awareness. Today we’re going to cover what the options are for managing your pain.
To manage your discomfort or pain there are several things you can do. If you have pain and swelling in your hand or thumb apply a bag of frozen peas to the hand / thumb and elevate it as much as possible. Frozen peas are nice because they’re small and can easily be wrapped around the joints of the hand. Do this twice a day until your swelling subsides.
Topical creams that manage discomfort can be very helpful. One that I like is Topercin that has Arnica and Echinacea in it. Use it ~4 times daily or as needed to feel relief.
Soft supports can be helpful for light housework or any activity that uses your hands. Some of these include the Thumb Arthritis Compression Gloves, IRUFA CMC Thumb Joint Stabilizer and Comfort Cool Thumb CMC Restriction Splint. Each of these comes with a little more support for your basal CMC thumb joint as indicated in the name from compression, to stabilizing to restricting movement of the thumb.
If you’re doing activities which put alot of stress on your thumbs then a hard support like a splint would be a good idea. The one I like the best is the Push MetaGrip splint. It’s a low profile, extremely durable brace thats designed to stabilize the CMC (basal) joint while allowing you to do any thing from opening jars, using tools and more. Velpeau Thumb Support Brace and the Velpeau CMC Joint Stabilizer Orthosis are two other designs that cost less money and could be a good option.
And finally you should strengthen and stretch your fingers and thumbs. A good tool is the gel Eggsercizer, a hand exerciser available in 4 strengths -extra soft, soft, medium and firm; but extra soft or soft is enough resistance with arthritis. With the small end of the gel egg nestled between your thumb and index finger squeeze with the thumb keeping all the thumb joints straight. Next put your fingers on top with the little finger on the small end across to the index finger on the thick end with the thumb on the bottom and form an O with your fingers and thumb while squeezing the egg. These are a few of the many things you can do with the Eggsercizier.
The last thing is to gently stretch your fingers and thumbs. Place the hands with your wrist and fingers straight, pull the thumbs away from the side of index fingers as far as you can. They should form a L shape (backwards L with right hand!). Hold for ~15 seconds and repeat a few times. Next swing the thumbs toward your little finger with the goal of touching the thumb tip to the base of the little finger. Hold and repeat several times. Lastly with hands in prayer position line up the fingers and thumbs against the opposite hand then spread the fingers and thumbs apart while keeping keeping them pressed against each other. Slowly separate your wrists and lift your palm upwards until you feel a stretch in your fingers. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat a few times.