Tips To Manage Thumb Arthritis

If you experience symptoms of thumb arthritis, it is important to meet with your doctor for an evaluation and treatment plan. We have tips you can use to care for your thumb.



Thumb arthritis can be painful and disabling. Seeking medical treatment at the first sign of symptoms is the best way to treat pain, improve mobility, and minimize the effect of this condition on your lifestyle. While following your doctor’s treatment plan, there are some steps you can take at home to make daily tasks easier to perform.

  • Use exercises to maintain your range of motion. Exercises that take your thumb through its full range of motion can help to preserve and improve mobility in your thumb joint. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist about exercises you can do.
  • Modify the tools you use at home. A number of household items have been designed for people with restricted hand strength. Helpful tools include special jar openers, key turners, and large zipper pulls. When you are shopping for garden tools, kitchen utensils, and pens, look for items with enlarged, easy-to-use handles. Consider replacing round doorknobs with lever handles that are easier to grasp and use.
  • Treat pain with heat or cold. Talk with your doctor about using cold compresses or heating pads—or a combination of both—when your joint feels swollen or painful.
  • Avoid situations when you clench your hands. Grasping the short handles of a purse or the handles of plastic shopping bags can force you to clench your hand, aggravating your thumb joint. Select a purse with a longer strap that you can comfortably loop over your elbow or shoulder. Instead of using grocery bags with handles, try a boxy paper bag that you can balance on your hip and steady with your arm.

None of these tips are a substitute for medical treatment, but they can be used in addition to a treatment plan to help protect your thumb from further injury, minimize pain, and maximize your quality of life.

When to seek treatment for your arthritis

Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. If you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of only two surgery centers nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.

Start your journey to healthier joints. Find your arthritis expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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  • Robert Anderson MD

    Robert Anderson, M.D.

    “My own injuries and need for surgeries have helped me understand the patient experience. I’m a better listener and care provider as a result. I grew up and attended college in the area, so I know and understand the people of the Twin Cities.”

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