Do you find it hard to open jars, turn handles or keys?

It may be osteoarthritis in the base of your thumb known as the 1st CMC joint.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused by a break down in cartilage and is most common in women over 50.

It is often lying dormant and may not even be symptomatic in many cases however it is commonly associated with pain, stiffness and weakness. Symptoms may be constant or you may only notice them during or after aggravating activities. 

Those aggravating activities are those requiring significant pinch or gripping.  Pain will also often flare up after a trauma such as a fall and can often be mistaken with or even hide another injury. 

How do I know if osteoarthritis (OA) is what’s causing my pain?

A physiotherapist will be able to assess your hand tell you if it appears like OA. An X-Ray can also help confirm the presence of OA or changes in your joint, however, what we see on X-Rays sometimes doesn’t correlate with your symptoms.

How do I fix it?

There is no cure for osteoarthritis however, there are many management options that can help settle your symptoms. These include:

Splinting – most people with respond very well with a custom splint to rest the joint

  • Exercises to support the movement 
  • Strengthening to support the joint
  • Nerve glides
  • Education and strategies to make daily activities easier and less likely to flare up your symptoms in the future.


If you suspect you have OA, see your physio today!