During a physical exam, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and look for noticeable swelling or lumps on your joints.
Your doctor may adjust the positions of the bones in your wrist joint, pressing on the base of the thumb while rotating the joint slightly. If this movement produces a grinding sound, or causes pain or a gritty feeling, it means the cartilage has worn down and the bones are rubbing against each other.
Imaging techniques, usually X-rays, can reveal bony projections that grow along the edges of bones (bone spurs), worn-down cartilage and loss of joint space — each indicating the presence of thumb arthritis.
Jun. 19, 2012
- 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.