So, you just returned from the doctor and they told you that you have arthritis in your thumb. You are in some serious pain and have to come to fully realize how important the use of your thumb is in fulfilling some of your activities of daily living. In this situation, a common question our occupational hand therapists often get is, "What can I do to relieve the pain in my thumb? Is there a splint I can use?".
In this FAQ video, Carol Harmon OTR/L, demonstrates the use of a splint which someone could use early on in their arthritis to reduce the pain in their thumb. The nice thing about this first splint is that it's very minimal. It supports the joint at the base of the thumb and leaves the rest of the fingers free so it doesn't inhibit your range of motion, yet you get some relief to that thumb joint.
If you need a little bit of additional support, you can use a second type of splint. It is neoprene, really comfortable and light, yet it provides a higher level of support for the joint right at the base of the thumb. You also get some additional support at the second joint in the thumb. This splint is still very mobile so you're able to use your hand freely, but you've got a little bit more support for pain relief and a little bit of compression to help with that constant wear and tear on your thumb joints.
If you're needing a greater level of support for your thumb, you can move to something like this third splint. This splint has a metal stay in it. I would recommend it for the kitchen, and using it for lifting heavy pots. Because of the increased level of support, you get less range of motion, but your fingers are free and you can still do your daily tasks. This third splint tends to support those joints a little bit better, further reduce your pain, and should prevent further wear and tear on your joints.
I hope you found this helpful. We recommend that if you have any pain in your hand, you contact your primary care physician first and ask them about the potential benefits of hand therapy.
What to learn more? Check out our YouTube Channel for another helpful FAQ video on "How Can I Continue to Cook Even with Pain in my Hand?"