Frequently Asked Questions about the Thumb

Feeling pain in your thumb? You may have a lot of questions about whether you have sustained an injury or have a chronic issue developing. Use this group of FAQs to learn more about your thumb, possible injuries, and everything you need from pain relief to treatment and home remedies.

I dislocated my thumb, now what?

You may feel pain, weakness, and notice your thumb being out of place when you dislocate your thumb. Your need to see your doctor to put your bones back in place. A dislocated thumb often means torn or strained ligaments. After your thumb is back in place, you will need to immobilize the thumb joint so that your ligaments can properly heal. Ice therapy can help with pain relief and reducing inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend that you take anti-inflammatory medications.

I jammed my thumb, now what?

The very first thing you should do if you have jammed your thumb is to ice the jammed area. Cold therapy will help bring down the swelling and alleviate some pain. Try to see if you can move your finger in a normal range of motion. It may be difficult. If it is too painful, stop. Depending on the severity of your jammed thumb, you may recover in a few weeks through rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Jammed thumbs take a long time to heal and are often prone to re-injury. Make sure you are fully recovered before participating in activities where you may risk injuring it again. When you do participate in these activities, make sure to tape, wrap or brace your thumb for additional support.

Should I wrap a jammed thumb?

Yes, you should wrap a jammed thumb after injury and during any future activities if you have recently jammed your thumb. Wrapping your thumb after injury will help apply compression to help reduce swelling. Wrapping your thumb during activities will provide additional support to help prevent against re-injury as you get back into sports.

Should I go to the Doctor for a Sprained Thumb?

If your sprained thumb gets worse or does not heal, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis as you may have a more severe injury like a fracture, broken bone, nerve damage or a significant ligament tear.

Why do I have pain at the base of my thumb?

Pain that begins at the base of the thumb could be an early sign of arthritis. The pain typically gets worse in motions where you need to twist, pinch, or hold an object tightly. You may lose grip strength. If you do not recall any injury that may be causing the pain you feel at the base of your thumb, consult your physician for a proper diagnosis.

Do I have Arthritis in the Thumb?

Thumb arthritis typically starts with pain at the base of the thumb and occurs when you need to grip or pinch an object. The area may also feel tender, painful, or swell. Talk to your doctor if you begin experiencing these symptoms.

Why is my thumb clicking?

Clicking when you move your thumb is a common symptom of trigger thumb. Trigger finger or thumb can cause pain and you may feel that your finger or thumb is catching as you bend and straighten the joint. This is caused by inflammation in the tendons.

How do I heal a sore thumb?

A sore thumb from overuse can be relieved by stretching, cold therapy, and rest. If your thumb is sore and not injured, stretching out your thumb, forwards and backwards can help you overcome soreness more quickly. Cold therapy and rest from the activity you were doing can also help speed up recovery time.

How to treat a swollen thumb?

If your thumb is swollen, it is likely you have injured the joint or the surrounding ligaments. The best way to immediately treat the swelling is to R.I.C.E. Rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Resting will help prevent further injury. Ice will help bring down any swelling and inflammation plus help with pain management. Compression will also aid with swelling as will elevation.

Why Do I Need to Splint my Thumb?

Splinting will help immobilize your thumb which will help with a quicker recovery. This will force you to rest your thumb. For more serious injuries like a fracture or broken bone, your doctor may splint your thumb for several weeks as you heal.

Is my thumb fractured or broken?

Your thumb may be fractured or broken if you fall on it or have direct impact on the joint. You might feel a lot of pain in the area, severe swelling, inability to move your thumb, or your thumb may appear deformed. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor for a proper diagnosis and recovery plan.

Do I have thumb tendonitis?

Thumb tendonitis also known as De Quervain's Tendinosis is typically caused by overuse. In this case, the tendons that attach to the thumb are swollen which make it difficult for the tendon to slide as you move your thumb and causes pain as it rubs against the walls of the sheath. You may have thumb tendonitis if you feel pain on the thumb side of the wrist. This pain can also move up to your forearm. You may experience swelling or feel a catching feeling when moving the thumb.

What does wearing a thumb brace do?

A thumb brace serves several purposes. Wearing a thumb brace helps immobilize your thumb if you are injured. By immobilizing your thumb, you give it a chance to heal. A thumb brace can also provide additional support during activities to protect your thumb from being injured. Thumb braces often have stays to help keep your thumb straight and are surrounding by additional material to prevent injury from impact. There are many types of thumb supports for a variety of condition. For the best results, it is important to select a thumb brace for your needs whether you are looking to heal or prevent injury.

What's the difference between a thumb brace versus wrist brace with thumb spica?

Since the thumb is closely connected to the wrist, bracing your wrist and thumb together can help immobilize your thumb more effectively and comfortably, especially since most thumb injuries hurt at the bottom of the thumb near the large joint. For thumb pain in the upper joint, often times, a thumb brace will be sufficient.

Can I bend a broken thumb?

Depending on the severity of your broken bone, you may still be able to bend your thumb. It is important to pay attention to the other signs of a broken thumb and seek treatment immediately if you suspect a broken bone.

Will they cast a broken thumb?

It is possible they will cast a broken thumb if your bone is severely broken and often in youth and adolescents. Other options include wearing a brace to immobilize the area.

How long does a sprained or fractured thumb take to heal?

A grade 1 sprain can take 4-6 weeks recovery time, grade 2 can take 6-10 weeks, and grade 3 sprains can take 12-16 weeks. A fractured thumb can take longer depending on the severity of the break. Often times you will be in a cast or splint for 2-6 weeks and be in physical therapy for a few weeks to months before you gain full mobility.

What else can cause thumb pain?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can also cause thumb pain. Because carpal tunnel syndrome impacts your nerve, you may experience symptoms down to your fingers and thumb.