Thumb Pain and Injury – How Physio can Help

Oakville Physio clinic for sports injuries

In a previous blog post we spoke about thumb pain and chronic issues associated with the thumb. These included things like osteoarthritis and trigger thumb. Trigger thumb like most things are helpful if addressed early.

Accessing physiotherapy early for thumb pain or issues can help delay or avoid needing injections or less conservative care from an orthopaedic surgeon or plastic surgeon.

Thumb injuries and issues can also be more acute or sudden. Changes or an increase in activity or things like contact or a fall can often be culprits of thumb injuries.

De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis

For some this can be thumb pain that strikes seemingly out of nowhere. This pain may happen when moving the thumb, gripping, turning the wrist, or lifting something. The pain is located n the thumb side of the wrist / forearm and may also be tender to the touch.

This thumb pain is caused by the swelling of the tendons that help move thumb out / extend the thumb. The tendons of the thumb when swollen and inflamed take up space in the sheath they run through.

The type of thumb and wrist pain is more common than you think. It is classified as an overuse type of injury, and is often brought on with new activities or increasing intensity of activities. Many post-partum women experience it from lifting, moving and carrying their babies and carriers in different, new, and repetitive ways.

yoga stretching poses from an oakville virtual physio

Your Physiotherapist will do a through assessment to ensure that this is the cause of your thumb pain. They will try and get to the root cause in order to provide education, possibly bracing, and advise on activity modification. They may provide supportive taping if it is impeding in your sport or daily activities.

In some cases less conservative treatment is warranted. Physiotherapy afterwards to work on scar tissue, strength and mobility can be helpful.

Like most things it is important to have your thumb pain addressed before if it is not improving or if it is impacting your activities and life negatively.

Skiiers Thumb / Game Keepers Thumb

This is the result of s sudden injury. It is a sprain of the inside ligament of the thumb or the ulnar collateral ligament. If it is not treated properly, it can result in long term problems of the thumb.

Manual testing and imaging will help in diagnosing the degree of sprain. The thumb should usually be protected from range of motion with a cast-like splint for a set period of time. During this time physio can start in a controlled way. If surgical repair is needed the surgeon will clear a person for physiotherapy after a certain amount of time to begin range and motion exercises and eventually strengthening.

oakville basketball thumb injury and physio

Fracture / Broke thumb

Thumb fractures (or breaks) can happen in variety of ways. Falls, sport impact or getting caught in a door are some common ways people break bones in their thumbs.

If you are losing time from sport / activity due to having your thumb immobilized, a physiotherapist can help provide ways to move your body without negatively impacting your healing bone.

Once your cast or splint is removed and your are cleared for activity based on your x-rays, Physiotherapy can help you restore normal thumb, hand, and wrist movement, manage pain, increase strength and return to sport / activity.

baseball player showing post ACL reconstruction rehab at Oakville Physio clinic

Contact us at our North Oakville Physiotherapy, Massage, and Foot Clinic. We are happy to help you recover from pain and injury that is impacting your life and activity.