Certified Hand Therapist Laura McCarthy OTR/L, CHT, demonstrates thumb exercises for thumb arthritis. We often prescribe these exercises for our patients with osteoarthritis of a certain thumb joint, the CMC joint.
When To Complete Thumb Exercises
If you are currently having thumb pain, we do not recommend completing exercises. You want to rest your thumb. We usually prescribe these exercises once the swelling has gone down and the thumb is less painful. Attempting these exercises too early in the healing process could irritate your thumb arthritis and delay your progress.
These exercises are done with therapy putty or theraputty. Therapy putty is color coded to different resistances, and you will typically start with the softest putty. To remove putty from the container, we recommend that you squeeze the sides of the putty container. This will push the putty towards the center of the container. Once it’s off the sides, it’s much easier to scoop the putty out.
How Often to Complete Thumb Exercises
We recommend 10 repetitions of each exercise daily, and then progress from there. If you have any soreness afterwards, try completing the exercises every other day. These exercises should not be painful, although they may be challenging.
Trick of the Trade: Start with gripping the putty to “warm up” your putty first. The putty that you will take home for your exercises will be firmer than the putty that is used in the clinic. Due to the stiffness of new putty, you may even have to work up to the ten repetitions of the exercises that we recommend.
Have you sustained an injury between or including your shoulder and fingertips? Do you suspect that your workplace environment is causing you pain? If so, you could be a candidate for hand therapy services at LB Hand Therapy in Maryland. Visit our Where to Begin page to become a patient.
Hi, im Laura McCarthy from LB Hand Therapy and were here today to talk about thumb stability exercises.
Often time we prescribe thumb stability exercises for patients that have arthritis in their thumbs. This is done after the thumb is less painful, and the swelling has gone down. We usually use putty to do the exercises.
Getting the Putty Out of the Container
The first thing is getting the putty out of the container with your sore thumb (removes the lid). You take the lid off, and then most people have trouble pulling it out, so what we do is we squeeze the putty container from the sides. This pulls the putty away from the edge and it makes it easy to get out of the container (demonstrates squeezing the container with both hands to pull putty out).
Exercises for Thumb Arthrits
Now the first exercise we prescribe is just squeezing the putty with your hand, this improves grip strength, or finger strength which helps compensate for the thumb (demonstrates squeezing the putty with the fingers).
The next exercise we do is thumb abduction. So you start with your hand flat on the table, palm up, you put the putty between the thumb and the index finger, and you pull in towards the index finger (demonstrates placing putty on palm and pushing thumb down into putty while keeping thumb in line with index finger).
The next exercise we do is thumb abduction, pull the putty apart, you start in the same position, palm up, hand flat on the table. You put the putty right at this joint of the thumb, and you push up towards the ceiling (demonstrates wrapping putty on thumb and lifting thumb up). You keep the hand flat on the table, you don’t let it roll. People often ask me how do you do that because you have to reach so far? So we pull it in closer to them, as long as you keep the same posture with the hand flat on the table and the thumb in, it becomes easier to do right in front of you (demonstrates pulling arm closer to chest).
The next exercise is thumb flexion, and you bend through the putty, like this (demonstrates digging thumb into putty while holding it in the palm). If this causes grinding in here, another way to do it is to curl your fingers into a tight fist and bend. You wanna make sure there’s a bend here, and a bend here as you pinch.
The last exercise is the three point pinch, which is for stabilizing the thumb, and practicing that stability. You use your index and long finger and your thumb, and you squeeze the putty between the three. You try to keep a circle here, with a little bend here, and a little bend there as you squeeze in. The critical thing is to keep the circle as you bend in (demonstrates pinching putty with thumb, index, and middle finger).
How Often to Complete Thumb Exercises
We usually prescribe about 10 repetitions of these exercises once a day, progressing slowly from there.
Thank you for watching this video, I hope you found it helpful. If you need further information please check our website lbhandtherapy.com. And again, thank you for watching.