Avatar universal

Pain and tingling in thumb

Okay, I've already Googled this and couldn't find anything that really fitted my symptoms, so...

For about a month I've been experiencing a sharp pain in my thumb, followed by a kind of buzzing, pins-and-needles sensation, whenever I put any pressure on the front area below the middle joint of the thumb (i.e. the side that faces my palm.)

It doesn't have to be hard pressure - a fairly light touch will do it - and it doesn't happen if there's no pressure at all. This led me to think I'd done myself some sort of nerve injury, but when I Googled on that I got back all these things like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Paresthesia, kidney disease and even some types of cancer (cheers for the reassurance, Internet!) I'm pretty sure it's just some stupid injury I've done to myself, so my question is: is there anything I can do (or some medical person can do) to help this heal up somehow?

5 Responses
547368 tn?1440541785
Hello Maerahn,

Welcome to our Pain Management Community. I'm glad you found us and took the time to post.

Ouch, I'm sorry to hear about the pain in your thumb. I believe we know our body better than any medical provider. If you've goggled all the possibilities that can cause thumb pain -  and nothing fits you're probably correct that you have stressed, strained or sprained your thumb.

I have a few questions. Do you have a career that requires you to perform repetitive work with your hand or fingers - like computer work? If so then I might lean towards carpel tunnel. I had it and my symptoms were not textbook. Indeed the surgeon said I had arthritis and not Carpel Tunnel.  I out knew he was wrong but waited for the tests to return. I don't have an ounce of arthritis but I did have Carpel Tunnel. So I wouldn't rule that out completely.

Obviously I think you should consult your PCP (Primary Care Physician). In the mean time rest the thumb, the entire hand if you can. Don't do anything that causes the pain to increase. Talk to your pharmacist for a suggestion of a good NSAID  to help ease the pain and any inflammation there may be in the joint or nerve.

Your thumb may be sprained or have a bursitis or neuritis or even an osteoarthritis. All those thing can cause some or all of your symptoms. Your thumb (as you have learned) may be experiencing referred pain - meaning coming from another portion of that extremity. But again you know your body best.

We could do all kinds of guessing but only your PCP will have the right answers. Rest the entire area - if ice helps apply it several times a day - heat will only increase the inflammation in the nerves or joint.

Please let us know how you are doing. I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help. I'll look forward to hearing more from you.

Best of Luck,

4851940 tn?1515694593
Stop thinking about what this may be and don't bother googling anymore.
Make an appointment to see your doctor.  The doctor is likely to send you for an xray to find out if it has anything to do with the joints.

It is more than likely that you some damage, whether this is through a fall, a knock, or from any degenerative disease damage to the bones (osteo or soft tissues or tendons.

For carpal tunnel problems the doctor will do a simple wrist movement and will ask what you feel.  If it is unclear, he will book you in for a nerve conduction test.  This is painless and you have nothing to worry about.

If you do use your hands a lot in any type of repetitive work, you are at risk of carpel tunnel problems as well as other soft tissue and tendon damage.

Don't keep pressing your thumb to find out how it feels, book an appointment to see the doctor to get the correct diagnosis.  Once the correct diagnosis is made, you will be able given the appropriate advice and how to deal with it.

If you do a lot of repetitive work, ensure that you get adequate rest breaks.  Wear a support strap around the wrist, hand and thumb if this helps give you some relief.

Book an appointment with your doctor.
Let us know how you get on.
Best wishes.

Avatar universal
That awkward silence you heard was the sound of me in denial, I think ;)

Yep, you're both right - I'm a writer, working from home, so I spend a good portion of my days at a keyboard. And when I Googled carpal tunnel syndrome I found a lot of excuses as to why it *couldn't* be that; "well yeah, I DID wake up with shooting pains in my hands and fingers for about a year or so, but that was MONTHS ago and I don't have that anymore," and "well yes, I DO have a hard ganglion on the top of my wrist that keeps coming back - but that's on the OTHER hand..."

I suppose the reasons I've been loathe to go to the GP is

a) I've recently been having tests for something else entirely unrelated, and I'm worried that if I go back and say "Oh yeah, and now I've got this as well," they're going to give me That Look and quietly rubber-stamp my notes with 'raging hypochondriac,'

and b) when I've mentioned these problems to them in the past they've either dismissed them as arthritis ("that's what happens when you get to your forties!" as one locum cheerfully told me) or tell me "well it's probably nothing to worry about - come back in a few months if it's still bothering you."

Thanks for your advice - perhaps if I print out some info about carpal tunnel syndrome and wave it under my GP's faces they might take me seriously this time. Or stick me on a secret blacklist of Annoying Nutjob Patients ;)
4851940 tn?1515694593
Even with writing you can get a condition called "Writer's Cramp".  Carpal tunnel is different.

Carpal tunnel problems can get very serious if you continue to ignore your symptoms and carry on doing what you are doing.   At this stage, you do not know if it is carpal tunnel problems or joint problems.  With carpal tunnel you will feel pins and needles, your hand or hands can be "dead" in the morning when you wake up.  

When you see your doctor say to him that you have had the problem for some time and that it is getting much worse and you are concerned because you need to use your hands for your living.  Unfortunately with most doctors you need to tell them what you want them to do.  So suggest that the doctor gives you an xray form to have your hand and thumb xrayed.  Tell him about any other symptoms and ask if HE thinks it may be carpal tunnel and for you to get the necessary tests done to find out.

If you do say about an hour's work and then do something different, take a break from the writing or typing; have a drink, a walk or do different chores.
If you need to keep typing as the info floods your brain, get a good Dictaphone, if you don't have one, so that you can record your thoughts and story lines, or whatever you do.  

You could also consider setting up a speaking and typing package, like Dragon (I think, my computer already came with something installed, I just had to buy the head phones and mouth piece).  Word recognition, I think it's called.  The computer types what you tell it.  I did find it rather complicated and I got very frustrated with it because it was not fast enough for me.  But it is still worth considering.

You are not a hypochondriac - I suggest you don't see that particular doctor that you saw before - see a different one at the practise.

You do not want to ignore this thumb and hand problem.  What you don't want is for it to get much worse.

I suggest you don't print off any info about carpal tunnel and wave it in front of the GP.  Some GPs (some in my own doctors practise) hate to be told about information found on the internet.  But to get him to think about it, you can make a suggestion like "Do you think it could be carpal tunnel syndrome?"  

Unfortunately, when we get to a certain age, things do start to go downhill with out bodies and sometimes we can end up going to see them more often than we would like to.  

If it helps you, write down all your symptoms about your hands and give the list to your doctor.  You can also take someone with you for support.  

Make the appointment and see the doctor and tell him your problem about your hands and thumb.  

Let me know how you get on.
Best wishes.

547368 tn?1440541785
Yes- that's just what the surgeon told me - "Arthritis."  You're so right, once you reach forty Everything is arthritis. I'm happy I'm past fifty and still not an ounce of arthritis in my body. Not everyone gets arthritis - though I admit most ppl do. My father never had any arthritis. I'm hoping I've gotten those great genes. :o)

So take those print-outs to your GP.  If you wait too long, as I did - you may have permanent nerve damage - as I do. I'm not a writer - (though I think it's every 12 year old's dream) - so some nerve damage is not the end of the world to me. A writer who has permanent nerve damage may find that much more serious to their career. So go girl!!

As said earlier it's a simple EMG to determine with finality if the median nerve is compressed as it travels through the wrist at the carpal tunnel. The surgery, though not a walk in the park - is not horrible. The end results are worth it - at least in my opinion.

Please keep in touch.

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