What are the possible causes of pain in the thumb joint?

A sore thumb joint will make it difficult for the individual to engage in daily tasks. The causes of thumb joint pain can include several injuries and conditions that affect the soft tissues and joints. The pain can manifest right away after trauma to the thumb was sustained or it can occur in a gradual manner. Since serious health issues such as infection can also cause thumb joint pain, it is best for the individual to consult a doctor first to determine the exact cause of the pain.

Injury to the tendon

The tendons basically connect the muscles to the bones in the thumb. They are attached closely to the joints in order to bend and straighten the tip and base of the thumb as well as moving the base from side to side. Once the tendons are overly stretched or overworked, it causes pain. The inflammation can cause the tendon to swell, increasing the pain and friction as the thumb is moved. Overstretching and trauma can cause the tearing of the tendon. Take note that these injuries usually affect the tendons responsible for bending and straightening the tip of the thumb, resulting to pain at the joint near the tip of the thumb.

Thumb joint pain

Overstretching and trauma can cause the tearing of the tendon.

In case the tendon is completely torn, the pain can diminish after the initial injury. Afterwards, the individual will notice that the joint could not be bent or straightened, depending on the tendon that is torn. It is important to seek medical care right away if the individual could not move the thumb joint since torn tendons require surgery.


Arthritis is considered as a common cause of thumb joint pain. The first and second joints in the thumb are commonly affected by osteoarthritis. The cartilage provides padding for the soft tissue between the bones in the thumb joint. Osteoarthritis will cause the cartilage to wear down. The bones will rub together resulting to pain in the thumb joint.  Rheumatoid arthritis is another condition that affects the thumb joint. This condition can cause the body to erroneously attack the healthy joints, thus breaking down the soft tissues.

The thumb joint pain steadily worsens. The fine motor activities such as pinching, writing or carrying objects can cause sharp thumb joint pain. As the condition progresses, the individual will feel aching pain in the thumb joint while at rest. If you want to learn how to manage this condition, click here.

Injury to the bone

Fractures that occur in the thumb can also cause pain. The common fracture that involves the thumb joint is known as a Bennett fracture. Take note that this injury affects the thumb joint at about an inch above the wrist. Aside from the pain, the individual will also have bruising and swelling around the affected joint.

Fractures that occur in the thumb joint are usually sustained during a fall on an outstretched hand, trauma to the thumb and sports activities. The pain can be sharp and increases in intensity when the thumb is used. Always bear in mind that thumb fractures can be serious especially at the end of the bone since they can reduce the ability of the individual to move the joint. Surgery is usually required to stabilize the bone to keep it in the right position as it heals.