Common Cause of Thumb Joint Pain

Shared by Linda Acitelli:

“All I want is a list of common thumb joint injuries, causes and remedies… can you please help?”


Thumb joint pain can be the result of a variety of issues, including injuries, diseases, or excessive use of electronic device. Let’s view these potential causes one by one.

Bennett fracture: A Bennett fracture is the most common type of fracture to the thumb metacarpal base, a bennett’s fracture is an intra-articular fracture, or one that extends into the joint between the metacarpal and wrist bone (“trapezium”).


  • Acute, severe pain and swelling at the base of the thumb, with grossly reduced movement at the first carpometacarpal joint.
  • Instability at the carpometacarpal joint may be noted with gentle stressing of the thumb metacarpal.

Active motion is limited because of pain. Once appropriate suspicion for a fracture is present, standard posteroanterior, lateral, and oblique radiographs (x-rays) should be obtained. Common treatment options include closed reduction (manipulation), cast immobilization, and surgery.


Rolando fracture: Another fracture found at the base of the thumb, although a Rolando fracture is more severe as it occurs when the base fractures into multiple pieces. Rolando fractures almost always need surgery, and although they are rare, thumb pain can last for months afterwards because of pre-mature arthritis.

Presentation can be with a swollen, tender, visibly deformed thumb base.

Extra-articular fracture: This type of fracture is much less severe as it is a simple fracture to the shaft of the small bones known as phalanges. It usually doesn’t require surgery and heals without any invasive procedures.

Ligament injury: An injury to the ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL. Ligament injury is common in some sports players, it’s known as “gamekeeper’s thumb,” or “skier’s thumb.”

Presentation can be swelling, joint pain, and severe bruising at the base.

Thumb dislocation: There are two major joints within the thumb that can become dislocated: the carpo-metacarpal joint (CMC) found at the base of the thumb, and the inter-phalangeal joint found between the phalanges. Dislocation of the CMC is more common.

Presentation can be pain, swelling, looking bent or deformed, not being able to move the finger.

All the above(fracture, liagament injury, dislocation) are associated with external force.

Carpal tunnel syndrome: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes numbness, tingling and other symptoms in the hand and arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compressed nerve in the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the palm side of your wrist.

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually start gradually. The first symptoms often include numbness or tingling in your thumb, index and middle fingers that comes and goes.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition also can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.

Cellphones: Your thumb can be damaged by constant typing on your mobile device. This injury is referred to as a repetitive stress injury, or more commonly, “Blackberry Thumb,” and can cause pain in the thumb joint.

Keyboards: Those who consistently use a keyboard for work or pleasure and type with both hands may develop carpal tunnel syndrome, causing thumb joint pain or numbness. Regular use of keyboards may also cause joint pain similar to that experienced with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.


In order to diagnose, examinations are necessary. If this is a condition of fracture or dislocation, it’s necessary to get support from your health provider. If it’s a condition from repetitive stress such as typing, it’s ideal to consult your doctor, but OTC drugs can also help you manage the pain.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.