Pain at Base of Both Thumbs---Ouch!!

chickenmomJanuary 25, 2009

I noticed, fairly suddenly, that I was having pain at the base of both thumbs. Sometimes it seems to go down the inside of my forearms. My doctor said it is just arthritis or posssibly tendonitis. He did some blood work and said all was normal. I was afraid it was the beginning of rheumatoid arthritis since that is supposed to begin in the same place on both sides of the body. I don't do repetitive motion and it seems strange to me that both thumbs are very painful. I can't open the door sometimes, can't remove lids, etc. It hurts so badly if I bump the joint that it makes me gasp. The doctor told me to come back in two months if it was still hurting, but I hate to waste the money if it is just arthritis, because there is really nothing that can be done for this. Am I right? I haven't been able to find a brace that helps. It isn't any worse when I first get up. I have taken osteopenia medication for several years, but stopped 4 months ago when this pain started because I thought that might be causing the pain. My doctor says that is not the cause and I should return to the actonel. Anyone else with just pain at the base of your thumb? There is no history of arthritis in the hands in my family. It is really frightening to think that if this gets worse I won't be able to sew or garden or type these messages!! It even hurts to turn the pages of a book as I read!!

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Sounds like a visit to an orthopedic doctor that specializes in hand, wrist and arm would be a good idea.

An answer of "come back in 2 months if it still was hurting", isn't an answer to what is going on and why you are in pain.

Since your doctor doesn't really know what is wrong and doesn't seem to be concerned about your pain, you should get another opinion from another doctor.

If it is tendonitis, an orthopedic doctor can help you. If it is some other kind of ortho problem, you are in the right place with an ortho doctor.
If it doesn't appear to be an ortho problem, the ortho doctor can direct you to the right kind of doctor to see.

Could luck


    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 5:27PM
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You sound exactly like me,I had it in both thumbs doctor said it was trigger finger.I had to finally have surgery to release the tendons in both thumbs.That took care of the problem of the thumbs then I started to get it in other fingers.They said it was not arthritis and no one in my family had ever had it either.But now I have RA, and that was the problem all along.wishing you the best

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 2:57PM
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Thanks for the info. I'm sure an ortho doctor would be a good idea. I should probably at least go back to my regular dr. Maybe he would do the blood work again and make a comparison. jj54, how long before you got the RA diagnosis? Is there any way to rule that out at the stage I'm in---just the pain at the base of my thumbs? If you get a diagnosis is there anything they can do to stop it or control it?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 10:45PM
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I think they did RF test And ccp test and a c-reactive test on me finally to tell what I had. I have been told a early diagnoses and beginning meds early helps to keep joint damage down.Ok after the surgury on my thumbs my other fingers the ring and middle started the to lock up and be sore just like my thumbs,now I have it in the shoulders knees jaw hand/finger and feet. hope this helps.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:02AM
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I went through a great deal of pain in my big thumb joint too. My doctor explained that I was beginning to have some arthritis in that big joint. There is a nerve that passes over that joint that can become very painful because of the inflamation in the joint rubbing on it.

I took anti-inflamitory drugs for a while and it stopped. This could be your problem. But I agree, see someone that specializes in hand problems.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 10:02AM
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Saw my doctor again today and reviewed the lab tests with him. He says the high sedimentation result shows a slight inflammation, but that test is very general and no real indication of possible rheumatoid. Based on the bi-lateral pain in my thumb joints he has given me a referral to a rheumatologist. So far, none of my other fingers have any pain, nor do I have pain in any other joints. I'm still hoping it is a side effect of the Actonel and it will go away. The treatments for RA sound almost as bad as the condition. Anyone else have joint pain from Actonel use?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 11:37PM
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I have the same thing in my thumbs joints. I've had osteoarthritis for about tens years and noticed this pain about 3 years ago. It's getting progressively worse as time goes on. Many things I can't do, very simple things. My rheumatologist said it's just wear and tear. He says these are the first joints to usually show signs of age. I am on Mobic for arthritis already. If I should forget to take it, I feel it first in the thumbs.
He says surgery is the outcome when it;s bad enough. Some days I consider it. Good luck with a diagnosis.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 11:13PM
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I have pain in my two thumbs and have been told arthritus, I recently had a fall onto my thumbs ( I work with children under 5 and sat down quickly onto a floor and put my hands out to stop the fall thus sitting on them, have pain in both thumbs now...ouch!! but not any different from before! I expect I have brusised them. The doctor gave my Naproxem tablets but am reluctant to stay on them due to side effects.
I could go to see a consultant and he did mention the 'op' to remove the offending bones that are rubbing together, but after reading this rather put up with the pain
have you any other ideas I can try to stop the pain which is tolerable.... I do take normal pain killer tablets when nexessary. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:49AM
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If you can afford it, PLEASE try massage with a good therapist. Look for someone who does "myofascial release" (although other techniques may worse) and has some years of experience under their belt. You can ask them on the phone straight out what their success had been with this kind of pain.

The brachialis (and neighboring muscles) may be a source of your pain:

You might also check out: (not a cure all but a helpful and very clearly written resource)!

I know it sounds weird, but make sure your shoulders are not rounded too far forward--in other words, do some exercises to help bring your shoulders back (if they need to be) such as the wall angel:

(This will look easy, but---gently!---try to bring the full scapula, elbows, wrists, head, and bottom against the wall.)

Also: do make sure you drink lots of water and consider an "anti-inflammatory" diet if you're not already on one (reduce sugar and white flour). Most of all, please keep looking for possible answers. I have a client who had migraines for 20 years. He tried everything under the sun, from western doctors to eastern to massage to homeopathy to gluten-free to etc; finally, just for "fun," he cut out refined sugar and flour and hasn't had a migraine since. As a massage therapist I hear stories like this all the time. Please don't give up!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 8:20PM
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I had it for almost a year and then found a small article about hydration so I started drinking 8 full glasses of water a day and doing hand exercises, keep finger and thumb rigid and use the other hand to press with resistance in the bad one. It worked. I've been without pain since.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 9:56AM
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Wow....I thought I was the only one experiencing this type of thumb joint pain. Mine started last year, just in my right thumb. Now I have pain in both thumb joints, making simple things very difficult and painful. I struggle with opening jars, etc and find myself dropping items. I can't grip things very well. My pain also runs down my wrists on occasion. I take ibuprofen and that dulls it a little, but I'm always aware of the pain there. The joints are even painful to the touch.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Another one checking in with pain at the base of both thumbs. Some days are better than others but there is always a certain amount of pain. I am not having any luck with PCPs, my current one is out on medical leave and I do not know when she will be back. So I went to see someone in Physical Medicine, she didn't know what to do with me so she referred me to Chronic pain. Still no answers. I honestly do not know what to do.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:48PM
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I know a doctors who says you don't need to suffer with this their names are Dr. Glidden and Dr. Joel Wallach you can find them on GCN radio or on youtube.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:15AM
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This is a fairly recent complaint that i have.It started with a Bursar on my left elbow,the only physical sign noticeable.After that disappeared i began to notice severe discomfort in my right elbow,then both elbows.This progressed to very painful thumbs,virtually unusable without severe pain,whilst doing the most simple tasks.It is for most of the time unrelenting,keeps me awake and is very uncomfortable.My G.P. has prescribed Tramadol for the pain,also Ibuprofen tablets and Gel,any relief i get is brief and temporary.Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:14AM
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Check out the links posted earlier by BlackThumb. I think you'll find that your pain is not originating in your thumbs but in your elbow and biceps. My physical therapist uses a pressure point technique and it has done wonders for my aches and pains.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 1:02PM
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