My thumb is very painful when I try to open jars. What’s going on?

Does the base of your thumb hurt when you are attempting to twist open jars or turn knobs? You may have arthritis involving the basilar thumb (thumb carpometacarpal joint). Thumb Base Arthritis.

Picture 1: Basilar thumb (thumb CMC joint area) circled.

Symptoms of pain may improve with time. When pain and discomfort persist, patients often try over-the-counter medications and activity modification. Thumb spica splints, which immobilize the thumb CMC area pictured above, may also provide rest, and help to resolve symptoms. When pain persists, a cortisone injection into the thumb CMC joint may help alleviate symptoms.

Surgical treatment may be discussed with patients when symptoms are not controlled by nonoperative treatment. One surgical treatment option termed ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI), involves the removal of the arthritic bone and insertion of the tendon to stabilize the basilar thumb. Post-operative recovery involves a period of splinting, subsequently followed by exercises to improve strength.

The decision regarding nonoperative versus operative treatment is complex and should be discussed with your treating physician. 

Outcomes after surgical treatments vary and risks and benefits should be discussed in detail with your treating physician. Nonoperative treatment also carries risks and benefits which should be discussed with your treating physician.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to covey, substitute or supplant any medical advice. In order to establish a treating relationship, please schedule and complete your visits with a licensed physician.

Copyright 2/6/2022 Tanay Amin, MD

Do not copy, distribute, or publish this article. Please contact Precision Hand and Orthopedic Surgery PLLC with regards to any inquiries or corrections.