Hand doctors and other specialists can help patients manage thumb pain

June 5, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics & sports medicine

Hand doctors can help patients deal with thumb pain, which may get in the way of summer activities such as gardening.

People who live with thumb pain may not be able to enjoy as many summertime activities, such as gardening or bike riding, as they would like, a physical therapist wrote in the Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania. Different health problems may impede the range of motion and function of this important joint.

One possible condition is loose ligaments. A lack of stability in the thumb may cause people to mislabel themselves as "double-jointed" when, in reality, their thumbs are in danger of moving into abnormal and painful positions.

Osteoarthritis is another condition that can affect the thumb, leading to pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthritic thumbs are more common in women and people in their 40s, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. However, fractures and other injuries may increase the risk for this issue.

However, hand doctors and other professionals can help individuals address these issues.

"A certified hand therapist receives specialized training in custom splint fabrication as well as other specialized treatment techniques," physical therapist Susan Fix wrote in her column. "These treatments may include modalities such as contrast bath, taping, joint protection techniques, stretches and strengthening."

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