Why Does My Thumb Hurt?

Our thumbs are what distinguish us from just about all other species, and it’s a piece of our body that is vital to function. Far often, many people and patients complain of a very broad question: why does my thumb hurt?. This is often asked when the pain is consistent or recurring in patterns. Everyday tasks such as using a keyboard or working out could cause intermittent pain in the thumbs – something this post isn’t concerned with.

Our thumbs, and fingers for that matter, consist of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. After repeated usage and function, these muscles, tendons, or bones will start to show their age. And of course, heavy, sudden trauma to your thumb is likely to result in negative consequences to your thumb, with the possibility of long-term damage. We’re not here to scare you, only keep you aware of possible reasons as to why your thumb hurts.

Thumb pain is usually diagnosed based on where the pain stems from:

  • Thumb sprain – this is typically easy to detect as it involves an event where sudden trauma to the thumb has taken place, most often while playing sports. Swelling, bruising, and sharp pain are common signs.
  • De Quervain’s tendonitis – if you have a shooting pain that moves up and down your thumb, often at the base of your thumb, then De Quervain’s tendonitis may be a possible diagnosis. Signs of inflammation such as swelling may occur in some cases.
  • Trigger thumb – similar to trigger finger, trigger thumb is a situation in which your thumb locks up at a bent position and then will pop back into place. Sometimes the lock lasts awhile; sometimes it pops back right away.
  • Skier’s thumb – this is a phenomenon that is similar to a sprain, but involves tearing of the ligament in your thumb. It commonly occurs in skiing accidents, which is where the term “skier’s thumb” derived from. Swelling, weakness of grasp between thumb and index finger, as well tenderness to touch along the side of your index finger point to this issue.
  • Arthritis at base of your thumb – pain that is strictly centered at the base of your thumb that is often described as “deep” and “aching” with no sign of relief, then arthritis of the thumb may be a possible diagnosis.

Regardless of your situation, it is important to receive an examination in person as these problems all contain similar symptoms. Don’t wait on pain that doesn’t seem to be getting any better, visit your Los Angeles hand surgeon today to find out exactly what it is that’s causing your thumb to hurt.