What are the causes of thumb pain?
Thumb pain can be caused by problems in the soft tissues, the bones and the joints. The soft tissue problems tend to be on the palmar side of the joint. The bone pain is usually at the site of problem but sometimes is felt in one of the neighbouring joints. Joint pain is likewise typically at the site of joint pathology but can be felt in one of the neighbouring joints typically the one just further away from the hand (distal).
The symptoms may be intermittent or continuous. Symptoms that wake a patient at night are of particular significance and should be looked into.
Soft tissue problems: These are common and are mainly caused by tendon problems – tenosynovitis and trigger finger (see information sheets)- and less frequently nerve problems which usually occur after injury (see information sheet) or are due to more proximal (further up the arm) nerve entrapment – carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuritis (see information sheets). Marked finger infection is a particular cause of severe finger pain of rapid onset that needs urgent assessment and treatment
Bone problems: These are very uncommon. They are mainly caused benign growths in the bone such as enchondromas (typically not painful) and osteoid osteomas (typically giving night pain) (see information sheets).
Joint problems: These are common. They are mainly caused by joint synovitis or arthritis (see information sheets), and less frequently ligament injuries around the joint although these are more common than in the fingers (see information sheets).