Usually a swollen thumb is painful condition. Many people ignore the swelling in its initial stage, which may worsen as time passes. A swollen thumb may cause pain and discomfort if not timely intervened and may ultimately interfere in your day to day activities.
There are several causes responsible for thumb swelling; some of them may heal after few days without any treatment, while others may require to be treated in order to reduce the pain and swelling.
What Causes Swelling Of Thumb Joints?
As mentioned earlier, there are several contributory factors responsible for swollen thumb; following are some of the common causes for thumb swelling.
- Trauma and injury to the thumb, hand and wrist, is the most common cause for thumb swelling. Injury while playing or occupational injury to the thumb may cause swelling of thumb. Sometime an injury may cause fracture of the thumb bone. In such cases, X-ray of the thumb may be necessary to detect the fracture.
- Overuse of thumb while text messaging or playing guitar and violin can put stress and strain on the thumb joint.
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis of small joints may affect the thumb joint. It may lead to thumb swelling, pain and restricted thumb movement. Together with thumb, other fingers may also get affected with Arthritis.
- Thumb tendonitis and bursitis can also cause inflammation and pain in the thumb. In thumb tendonitis, the tendon attached at the base of the thumb gets irritated due to repeated hand and wrist manipulation. In bursitis there is inflammation of the bursa, a space between the bones and ligaments.
- Insect bites and stings can also cause thumb swelling. Local inflammation, itching, burning and swelling can result after an insect bite, it may persist for few hours before healing on its own.
- Infection of the thumb can also cause its swelling. It can be a secondary infection due to trauma and cut on the thumb. If the patient is suffering from diabetes it is necessary to control his blood sugar.
Treatment For Swollen Thumbs
Since there are many reasons for swollen thumb, it is necessary to know the exact reason that has caused thumb swelling in order to plan its treatment. For example if the swelling is due to fracture of thumb bone, it needs an immediate medical treatment. Sometimes anti-inflammatory and painkiller medicine may be required to reduce the pain and swelling. Your doctor may apply splint and bandage to immobilize and restrict the movement of your thumb for healing the bone.
If there is an infection and formation of pus, use of prescription antibiotics may become necessary for reducing the thumb swelling and pain. Though the treatment may be different for different causes, certain common methods may help to reduce the swelling of thumb.
- Apply cold compress to the thumb area. Take few ice cubes in a clean towel and apply the towel to the swollen thumb for 10 to 15 minutes. Apply cold compress at least two to three times in a day to reduce swelling.
- Rest: when the cause for swollen thumb is due to excessive overuse of thumb, there is no better treatment than giving rest to your thumb. For example if the reason of swelling is due to text messaging or due to playing guitar, try to take a break from your work, or abstain from such activities for few days until the swelling recedes.
- Hot water fomentation: it is also considered to be an effective home remedy in reducing pain and swelling of thumb, especially in certain ailments such as arthritis of thumb joint. Pour warm water over the affected thumb for 10 minutes two to three times in a day.
- Alternate warm and cold application may increase the blood circulation and thus reduce the swelling and pain.
- Wearing a splint prevents unnecessary movement of the thumb and allows it to rest.