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February 06, 2010


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Tom Owens

Before the pain there was a lump that seemed to get larger and move from the upper side of the fatty part of the hand next to the thumb to the bottom area and felt as if it attached itself to the muscle; etc at the base, becoming more painful as months have passed. It literally feels at times as if the thumb is broken. It was diagnosed as arthritis a few years ago, but I have serious doubts about this. I've worn a thumb brace that helps, but if it continues, I'll have to consider surgery. When at it's worst, the hand is useless.


Hi Tom, Thank you for your question. Here are my best long-distance guesses:

1. It sounds like this is larger than a muscle spasm would be. But have you tried applying pressure as suggested in the article? Does it help at all? If so, that would probably be a muscle spasm at the base of your thumb. Also the tendons for your thumb muscles run almost to your elbow so do apply pressure or massage or cold packs to those areas, too, to help them relax.

Cold therapy is usually the best choice for pain but if it makes you feel slightly more uncomfortable, try heat. If heat cause more discomfort, then it is not the correct choice.

2. We most often get a diagnosis of 'arthritis' when the cause is unknown. So, it may or may not be arthritis or bony changes.

3. If there is a cyst or tumor (I'm not saying cancer--just saying a growth) and it causes you that much discomfort, removing the fluid from the cyst or removing the cyst or tumor may be your best option. If you consider surgery, ask lots and lots of questions:

What exactly is this? What will you do? What results can I expect? Is there another option to surgery? How long will it take for me to recover use of my thumb? Can you assure me of good results? And ask similar questions that will help you make your best decision.

I hope you are able to get rid of the pain at the base of your thumb quickly.

The Pain Relief Coach

Jeff Wolfe

I get excrutiating pain in my wrist at the point where a straight line drawn down my thumb to the base of it's proximal phalanx and where that meets the wrist. The pain first came about from twisting off a 2" diameter rubber thermos top. The pain will last a day or two and then disappear just as quickly with no treatment. The pain will not allow even gentle pressure at the point of pain. I could not even put my hand in my pocket. The next day.....gone!


Hi Jeff,

Would you describe this as nervy pain? Is it burning or does it feel like a toothache? I'm thinking a nerve is involved. Does it keep coming back? Do you keep doing the movement that aggravates it? I'd like to know more.

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  • "Hi Kathryn, I recently developed carpal tunnel in my right hand (9 months since I started noticing signif. tingling; now it is painful). The doctors have offered little more than suggesting braces and anti-inflammatory and what I find on the internet is all over the place and often extremely depressing. Your "page" is so encouraging. I have been searching for some ways to manage and reduce the causes, and so I'll be following the advice here. Mostly, I am relieved to have a source of information now that is helpful and positive. So thank you!" - Caroline Brown, by email
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  • "Thank you so much for your information, it is something I have never heard before. I am thrilled to try out these techniques and do think that the scalene issue might be the key for I constantly have pain between my shoulder blades, have big knots along the spine exactly where you say and do hold my head forward. You may have hit the nail on the head."--Riannen Schlosser, Lodi CA (concerned about carpal tunnel pain)
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