You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. In some cases, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions (rheumatologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. For thumb arthritis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What are the alternatives to the approach you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend visiting?
Don't hesitate to ask any other appropriate questions.
What to expect from your doctor
During the physical exam, your doctor will check joints in your hand for swelling, redness and warmth. He or she may also ask you some questions, including:
- When did your pain begin?
- Have you ever injured that hand?
- Does your work or any other activity aggravate your symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
Until your appointment, you can try easing your pain by:
Jun. 19, 2012
- Adapting activities or using your other hand to rest your affected thumb
- Applying heat or cold to your thumb
- Taking over-the-counter pain relieves, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve, others)
- Arthritis of the thumb. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00210. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- Anakwe RE, et al. Osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb. British Medical Journal. 2011;343:1.
- Hochberg MC, et al. American College of Rheumatology 2012 recommendations for the use of nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies in osteoarthritis of the hand, hip and knee. Arthritis Care & Research. 2012;64:465.
- Arthritis: Base of the thumb. American Society for Surgery of the Hand. http://www.assh.org/PUBLIC/HANDCONDITIONS/Pages/ArthritisBaseofthe.aspx. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp. Accessed March 29, 2012.
- Crop JA, et al. Doctor, my thumb hurts. The Journal of Family Practice. 2011;60:329.
- Imbodin JB, et al. Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2007. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=2729561. Accessed March 29, 2012.
- Self-help arthritis devices. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritistoday.org/treatments/self-treatments/arthritis-devices-print.php. Accessed March 29, 2012.