What Is Thumb Saddle Joint Irritation?

25 August 2017

From brushing our teeth in the morning to switching off the TV with the remote at night, we are constantly using our thumbs to help us pinch, press, and grab. When the thumb is injured or it becomes damaged, our routines can be compromised while we cope with discomfort and pain.

Thumb saddle joint irritation is one such condition that can affect your thumbs and, in turn, your quality of life. Here at WristSupports.co.uk, we've compiled this concise guide to help you to understand thumb saddle joint irritation, what causes it, and how to recognise the symptoms. We also provide information about how you can treat the condition should it arise, helping you get back to full hand and wrist health as quickly as possible.

What Is a Saddle Joint?

A saddle joint is a kind of synovial joint. One bone is shaped like a saddle, hence the name, while the other bone rests on top of it, performing the role of the horse rider. Saddle joints offer stability and flexibility, such as with the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint of the thumb. This is also known as the CMC-1 joint or the trapeziometacarpal joint.

The role of the thumb saddle joint enables the thumb to be opposable, allowing it to bend and come into contact with the palm and the four fingers. When this joint becomes damaged, it can become painful and, in some cases, even impossible to pinch or grab.

What Is Thumb Saddle Joint Irritation?

Thumb saddle joint irritation is a name given to the pain felt around the saddle joint of the thumb. When pain occurs at the base of the thumb, it is very possible that this is connected to the saddle joint.

As our thumbs are in constant use, they are highly susceptible to weakness and degeneration over time. As a result, such conditions as arthritis can develop.

Symptoms of Thumb Saddle Joint Irritation

There is a wide range of conditions that can affect the thumb, so it may be difficult to specifically identify whether or not it is thumb saddle joint irritation that is causing the problem. In all cases, a professional medical diagnosis should be sought, but the symptoms listed below may help you to identify your condition in advance.

  • Inflammation around the base of the thumb. This may feel hot and tender to the touch.
  • Difficulty pinching. If you feel an intense pain when you pinch your thumb and index finger, or are unable to pinch them at all, this could be a sign of joint irritation.
  • Swelling can often occur, and this is typically as a result of the inflamed area.
  • Increasing pain. You may find that the discomfort can quickly increase in intensity to a pain that is almost unbearable. This will be particularly true if you still find yourself using your thumb regularly after injury and before treatment.

See Our Range of Supports for Saddle Joint Irritation

How Do I Treat Thumb Saddle Joint Irritation?

As thumb saddle joint irritation is a degenerative condition, meaning it is caused over time as a product of the body's natural wear and tear, it is not likely that it can be healed completely. However, there are various approaches to treatments that you can take to relieve pain and better manage the condition.

Surgical Procedures

In more severe cases, surgery may be advised by your doctor. With such conditions as arthritis of the CMC-1 joint, this can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammations. It is important to follow aftercare and rehabilitation advice following an operation on your thumb and wrist.

Cryotherapy Treatments

Utilising the benefits of an ice pack or other cold pack, swelling and inflammation can be quelled or controlled. This in turn can help to relieve some of the pain, and is also a convenient approach to pain relief that can be performed as and when you require it.

Wrist Supports

When pain strikes, stabilising or immobilising the thumb will help to eliminate the risk of it coming to further injury or harm. Not only will this be crucial if this is the sole method of treatment, or if you're waiting for an operation, but it will also significantly help during rehabilitation.

There is a wide range of supports available that are specifically designed to help the thumb. Some prevent the thumb from moving, while others can compress the area to encourage pain relief and a quickened recovery process following operation. To view the full range of wrist supports for thumb saddle joint irritation, follow the button below.


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