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Why Does My Thumb Hurt When I Press On It?

Why Does My Thumb Hurt When I Press On It?

Although we hardly pay attention to our thumb, it helps with almost half of our hand functions throughout the day. It’s no surprise that when hurting, it throws a serious wrench into your daily routine, making even the simplest tasks a challenge.

If you find yourself asking, “Why does my thumb hurt when I press on it?” it might be time to explore what’s causing the pain. In this blog, we’ll find out why your thumb may be hurting and whether it’s time to see a specialist!

Fivali A Woman Wearing A Thumb Brace When Working - Guide

 

Why Does My Thumb Hurt When I Press On It?

To find relief, it’s essential to know where exactly your thumb hurts, what thumb pain causes are, and what you can do about it. Your thumb pain may be due to one of the following conditions:  

1. Thumb Sprain

Thumb sprains occur when the ligament connecting the bones of your thumb stretches or tears. These sprains are categorized into three grades: Grade 1, where the ligament is stretched; Grade 2, involving partial tearing; and Grade 3, where the ligament completely tears down.

Symptoms

  • Throbbing pain at the thumb’s base
  • Discoloration or bruising around the thumb
  • Numbness around thumb
  • Stiffness in the thumb joint

Treatment

While the treatment for thumb sprains depends on the intensity of your pain, treatment for mild sprains includes:

  • Icing
  • Resting
  • Pain Relievers
  • Compression bandages

2. Thumb Fracture

A thumb fracture occurs when one of the bones in your thumb breaks or displaces. This may occur in the proximal or distal phalanges (smaller bones) or the first metacarpal (the larger bone) connected to the thumb.

Symptoms

  • Severe pain at the fracture site
  • Limited mobility
  • Swelling extending to the hand
  • Extreme tenderness when touched

Treatment

To restore functionality, it’s important to ensure proper treatment of your thumb for fractures, including:

  • Ice therapy
  • Elevation of thumb
  • Surgery (in severe cases)
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers

3. Osteoarthritis

When asking yourself, "Why does my thumb hurt when I press on it?" it's crucial to check your thumb for osteoarthritis. Most common from middle age onward, osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joint cartilage that causes the bones to rub against each other.[1] Joint injuries, genetics, obesity, and repetitive stress to the thumb also actively contribute to osteoarthritis. 

Symptoms

  • Crackling sound when moving the thumb  
  • Bone spurs
  • Swelling around the thumb
  • Persistent or intermittent pain at the base of the thumb

Treatment

Some common treatments for arthritis in thumb joints include:

  • Wearing a splint or brace
  • Injection therapy
  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Creams or ointments containing NSAIDs

4. Tendinitis

Thumb tendinitis refers to inflammation of tendons in the thumb region, causing swelling and pain in the area. These are responsible for moving the thumb, so inflammation or irritation may be seriously concerning and require a quick medical examination.

Symptoms

  • Sharp pain in thumb joints
  • Swelling along the wrist or at the base of the thumb
  • Weakness in the hand
  • Creaking sensation during thumb movements

Treatment

  • Ice therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Corticosteroid Injections
  • Using ergonomic tools or workspaces

5. Trigger Thumb

Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, it is a condition affecting tendons where your thumb gets stuck in a bent position as you move it. This occurs due to the narrowing of the tendon sheath that surrounds the tendon, leading to swelling and inflammation. People with rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are at a higher risk of developing trigger thumb. [2]

Symptoms

  • Snapping feeling when moving the thumb
  • Soreness of palm near the thumb
  • Nodule formation
  • Thumb locking

Treatment

  • Steroid injections
  • Occupational therapy
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs[3]
  • Trigger finger exercises

6. De Quervain's Tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis is another painful condition affecting the tendon sheath on the thumb side of the wrist. This makes it difficult for tendons to pass through the wrist’s tunnels normally, causing radiating pain into the thumb.

Symptoms

  • Swelling or sharp pain towards the base of the thumb
  • Difficulty grasping or pinching
  • Tenderness along the wrist
  • Stiffness

Treatment  

  • Resting
  • Avoiding repetitive movements
  • Surgical release (severe cases)
  • Injection therapy

7. Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are jelly-like, fluid-filled lumps that appear along joints or tendons of the thumb. They may also occur in other fingers and may vary in size. Plus, they may appear suddenly or gradually over time.

Symptoms

  • Noticeable lump around the thumb
  • Discomfort or tingling sensation
  • Usually painless
  • Smooth skin over the cyst

Treatment

  • Wearing a brace/splint
  • Applying warm compresses
  • Aspiration
  • Surgical removal of the cyst

8. Paronychia

Paronychia is one of the most common causes of thumb pain, infecting the skin around the nails and surrounding tissues. Typically, this condition occurs when bacteria or fungi enter through breaks in the skin, causing inflammation or infection.

Symptoms

  • Redness on the skin around nails
  • Pus formation
  • Warmth in the infected area
  • Swelling around the thumbnail

Treatment

  • Proper nail care
  • Antibiotics
  • Warm soaks
  • Antifungal medications

 

Try Fivali Thumb Support Solutions to Relieve Thumb Pain

Here, Fivali has developed different thumb support solutions to relieve your unpleasant thumb pain so you no longer have to keep up with it:

1. Fivali Thumb Spica Splint Brace 1 Pack FWR01
Fivali Thumb Spica Splint Brace 1 Pack FWR01 - Guide

Whether you’re dealing with a thumb injury or just need some extra thumb support, Fivali Thumb Spica Splint Brace 1 Pack FWR01 never disappoints. Designed with a strong metal support, it keeps your thumb stable. The terry-anti-pilling foam ensures this brace is a comfortable, breathable fit without getting in the way of your daily activities.

2. Fivali Thumb Splint Brace 1 Pack FWR02

Fivali Thumb Splint Brace 1 Pack FWR02 - Guide

If you’re looking for thumb-specific support, Fivali Thumb Splint Bruce 1 Pack FWR02 is perfect for you with its specialized stabilization strap. It comes with a reliable support gel bar to keep your thumb stable and a comfortable fit for all-day wear. The best part? This one has multiple color options, so you can always choose thumb support that suits your style.

3. Fivali Thumb Spica Brace with Fishbone Splint for Recovery – 1 Pack

Fivali Thumb Spica Brace with Fishbone Splint for Recovery – 1 Pack - Guide

The Fivali Thumb Spica Brace with Fishbone Splint is perfect for anyone looking for professional-grade thumb protection and support. Featuring a unique fishbone splint for superior support, it ensures your thumb remains steady while healing. It’s especially beneficial for people with conditions like arthritis and tendinitis, which can be worn throughout the day.

4. Fivali Hand Wrist Brace with Lightweight and Breathable Fabric – 1 Pack

Fivali Hand Wrist Brace with Lightweight and Breathable Fabric – 1 Pack - Guide

This one is best suited for seeking effective and comfortable wrist support throughout the day. Fivali Hand Wrist Brace with Lightweight and Breathable Fabric is best when you are recovering from wrist injuries or strains, helping you manage conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and offering support during activities that strain the wrist. Made from breathable fabric, you can comfortably carry it without irritation.

 

How to Alleviate Thumb Pain

You likely know the answer to your question: Why does my thumb hurt when I press on it? Also, we’ve talked about the required treatments for all of the above-mentioned conditions. But there are some home remedies you may try before or after seeing a doctor to alleviate your thumb pain:

1. Rest

Giving your thumb rest is essential to begin the healing process and reduce inflammation. Avoid repetitive movements or activities that may aggravate the pain. Giving up such activities for some time is the best idea.

2. Cold or Warm Compresses

Next up, applying cold compresses helps reduce swelling and numb pain, especially right after an injury. On the other hand, warm compresses or heating pads help with blood circulation and ease stiffness in chronic conditions like arthritis.

3. Take Medications

While it’s best to take medications that your doctor prescribes, turning to over-the-counter medications may also help. In fact, some anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, help relieve pain sooner than you think!

4. Perform Gentle Thumb Exercises

When your thumb hurts, gentle thumb stretches and exercises can help enhance strength and flexibility in your thumb joint. You can simply bend and straighten your thumb or use physiotherapy techniques to exercise the muscles in your thumb.

If you’ve tried out all the techniques you can and are still asking, “Why does my thumb hurt when I press on it?” – it might point towards something serious. It’s time to keep your activities away and rest your thumb as much as possible. You may visit Fivali to try out some Fivali thumb support devices to help your thumb condition.  

 

Reference links

[1] NIAMS/2023, “Osteoarthritis”. Available at:https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/osteoarthritis (Accessed on June 26, 2024)
[2] Merivale Hand Clinic, “Diabetes and Trigger Finger”. Available at:https://www.merivalehandclinic.co.nz/resource-hub/diabetes-and-trigger-finger/ (Accessed on June 26, 2024)

[3] Drugs, “Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories”. Available at: https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/topical-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatories.html (Accessed on June 26, 2024)

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