Though you may not be aware of it, your thumb is responsible for 50-60% of all our hand functions. When the base of the thumb becomes inflamed or irritated, the condition is called thumb arthritis, which is also known as basal joint arthritis or carpometacarpal arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis that can exist throughout the body, but when the thumb is involved, it's usually osteoarthritis. This is a gradual, wear-and-tear type of arthritis that usually comes about from the aging process.
The first and most common symptom of thumb arthritis is pain at the base of the thumb. This pain will typically occur or get worse when you attempt to grip, grasp or pinch an object, or when you use your thumb to apply force. Turning a key, opening a doorknob or jar and snapping are all activities that often lead to pain. Other symptoms may include swelling, stiffness, warmth, tenderness or general discomfort. Patients may also experience weakness and limited ability to move the thumb normally, especially when grasping or pinching. As a result, it can become very difficult to perform many daily activities.