What is thumb pain?

Thumb pain can result from damage or injury to any of the structures in your thumb, including bones, joints, tendons, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, connective tissue, skin or fingernails. The symptoms may be constant or they may vary, and they may improve or worsen with movement. You might describe your thumb pain as sharp, dull, stabbing, burning or throbbing, ranging in intensity from mild to severe. Sometimes, pain perceived in the thumbs is actually referred pain that originates from injury or disease elsewhere in your body.

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Depending on the cause, your thumb pain may be present in one or both thumbs. Osteoarthritis is among the most common causes of thumb pain, along with injuries and trauma. Deformities, either present at birth (congenital) or acquired later, can also cause thumb pain. In other cases, thumb pain may be related to a chronic underlying disease that affects other regions of the body. For example, bluish discoloration (cyanosis) and enlargement (clubbing) of the fingertips are characteristics seen in many chronic lung diseases in which the body does not receive adequate oxygen.

Diseases or conditions that affect the nerves and muscles, such as cerebral palsy, can be associated with symptoms that involve both the arms and the hands. Disorders of the spine, such as infection, fracture, tumor, or disc disease, often produce symptoms in the arms and hands. Infections of the skin around the nails (paronychia), skin and underlying tissue (cellulitis), or bone (osteomyelitis) are further causes of thumb pain.

The duration and course of thumb pain vary widely, depending on the cause. Obviously, an injury will often produce sudden symptoms. In other cases, wear-and-tear damage in the thumb develops slowly and persists or worsens over time.

Rarely is thumb pain serious. However, it may be associated with signs of a serious condition. If thumb pain is associated with a sudden onset of weakness or numbness in the arms or hands, especially if it occurs on only one side of your body, it can be a sign of stroke. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have any of these life-threatening symptoms, including sudden weakness; numbness in your hands; paralysis; sudden, severe headache; or inability to move a body part.

If your thumb pain are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with thumb pain?

Thumb pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that affect the thumb may also involve other systems of your body.

Traumatic symptoms that may occur along with thumb pain

Thumb pain may accompany other symptoms of trauma including:


What causes thumb pain?

Disease or injury to any part of your thumb can result in thumb pain. Symptoms may arise from neuromuscular conditions, inflammatory conditions, infections, or diseases that affect the blood flow to the thumbs.

In addition, thumb pain can be caused by underlying conditions that involve the body as a whole, such as Read more about thumb paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

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