Thumb Joint Pain: Is It Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?Thumb joint pain is a common complication of slaving away for hours at a keyboard, on an assembly line, doing sewing, or from heavy-duty tasks around the home. When thumb joint pain persists, however, it can be an early warning sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, often abbreviated CTS.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?The carpal tunnels are hollow tubes that protect the nerves that control the hands. They are made of tough collagen proteins that are connected, directly and indirectly, to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones in the wrist, the forearm, the upper arm, the shoulders, and neck.
When the walls of the carpal tunnels begin to narrow, the nerves inside do not work properly. The thumbs and the fingers may hurt. They may tense up. They can sting and burn, or you might feel nothing at all. Typically, suffers of CTS experience all of these symptoms, at one time or another, especially in their thumbs.
Thumb pain may seem like a trivial thing, but it can become debilitating. The pain can get really bad just as you are trying to get to sleep. There can be problems with typing, driving, washing your face, combining your hair, and holding a cup, glass, spoon, knife, or fork. And the longer you let the problem go untreated, the worse the problem will be.
What Can You Do About Thumb Joint Pain?Whether your thumb joint pain is due to CTS or not, several simple exercises may help. The key is to do them gently. You should feel just a gentle tug when you do these exercises correctly. If they hurt, you are not doing them right.
1. The Numb Thumb RelieverThis is the exercise to do if your thumb has been hurting recently, but when you find time to do the exercise, it just feels numb.
- Hold your left hand in front of you. Spread your fingers.
- Place the first and second fingers of your right hand between your thumb and index finger of your left hand.
- Press down firmly with your right hand.
- Slowly close your left hand to make a fist. Stop if it hurts.
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, release, shake out your hands, and then repeat with you other hand.
2. This Little Piggee for The Thumb
This is an exercise to stretch the thumb muscles at the back of your hand to increase the pain-free range of motion of your thumb. You get better results if you do the exercise slowly rather than quickly.
- Hold your right hand out in front of you. Face the palm forward, and keep your wrist straight. Now use your left hand to pull your right thumb in front of your right palm.
- Hold until you feel a gentle tug in the connective tissue leading upward from your thumb, and then release.
- Repeat with the other hand.
Hold your wrists straight to avoid stress on your thumb. Bending your wrist actually strengthens your thumb, but you do not want to do this until you can do it pain-free.
3. The One-Person Fist BumpThis exercise improves the flexibility of both thumb and wrist.
- Hold your left hand in front of your body and make a loosely closed fist. Put your left thumb inside your loosely closed fist.
- Rotate your fist in the widest circle you can make. Do this slowly, taking about 30 seconds as you go through the full range of motion. You may feel a little tug now and then. This is a sign that your connective tissues are adjusting to the motion.
- Repeat with your other hand.
If this exercise makes you aware of tension in your shoulders, that may be your real problem area.
The bottom line about the treatment of sudden chest pain is very simple: See a doctor right away! Speedy treatment may not only save your life, it can make a happier and healthier life possible for many years to come.