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Tips on Managing Hand and Thumb Arthritis During Winter

Hand and thumb pain from arthritis often is worse during winter. One of the most common joints in the hand affected by arthritis is your thumb, also known as basal joint arthritis or carpometacarpal (CMC) joint arthritis. This is a condition that affects the joint at the base of the thumb, called the carpometacarpal joint.

Thumb and hand arthritis typically develops due to wear and tear on the joint over time. People who engage in activities that involve repetitive thumb and finger movements or put stress on the joint may be at higher risk.

Tips on managing hand and thumb arthritis during winter

Symptoms of Hand and Thumb Arthritis May Include:



Pain at the base of the thumb, fingers or knuckles, which may worsen with use or over time.


The joint may become swollen and tender.

Decreased Range of Motion

You may experience difficulty moving the thumb or fingers, especially when pinching or gripping objects.


Weakness in the thumb and hand may make it challenging to perform certain tasks.


The joint may feel stiff, particularly after periods of rest or in the morning.

Treatment Options

Treatment for thumb arthritis can range from conservative approaches to surgical options, depending on the severity of the condition. Some common treatment methods include:


Rest & Activity Modification

Giving the thumb and finger joints adequate rest and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain can help reduce symptoms.

Pain Relief

Over-the-counter pain medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.

Splinting or Bracing

Wearing a splint or brace can provide support to the thumb joint and reduce stress on the affected area.

Hand Physiotherapy

Hand physiotherapy exercises can help improve strength and flexibility in the thumb and fingers.


Assistive Devices

Using adaptive tools and devices can make daily tasks easier and put less strain on the thumb joint.


If conservative treatments are not effective, surgical options, such as joint fusion or joint replacement, may be considered.
Tips on managing hand and thumb arthritis during winter

Self-Management Tips

Managing hand arthritis during the winter can be challenging, as cold weather can worsen arthritis symptoms and lead to increased stiffness and discomfort. However, there are several strategies you can implement to alleviate the impact of arthritis on your hands during the winter months:

  • Keep Hands Warm: wearing warm gloves or mittens whenever you are outdoors can help maintain the temperature of your hands and reduce stiffness caused by the cold weather. Consider using heated hand warmers for extra warmth when needed.
  • Dress in Layers: dressing in layers can help regulate your body temperature, preventing your hands from getting too cold. Keep your core warm, as this can help improve blood circulation to your extremities, including your hands.
  • Gentle Exercises: engaging in gentle hand exercises can help improve hand flexibility and reduce stiffness. Make a habit of doing hand stretches and exercises recommended by a Hand Physiotherapist
  • Warm Water Soaks: soaking your hands in warm water can help relax the muscles and joints, easing stiffness and discomfort. Avoid using hot water, as it may cause more harm than good.
  • Avoid Overexertion: during the winter, your hands may be more susceptible to fatigue and pain. Avoid overusing your hands and take regular breaks to rest them.
  • Use Aids: consider using assistive devices or adaptive tools to reduce the strain on your hands when performing daily tasks. For example, using a jar opener or adaptive utensils can make gripping and handling objects easier.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: eating a balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods can help manage arthritis symptoms. Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, as they have been shown to reduce inflammation.
  • Stay Active: regular low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, can help improve overall joint health and reduce arthritis symptoms. Consult your doctor or physical therapist to determine the most suitable exercise routine for your condition.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can exacerbate arthritis symptoms, so practice relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to keep stress levels in check.
  • For more self-management tips, visit Arthritis Australia’s website:

If you have hand arthritis and would like to seek treatment, get in touch with one of our Hand Therapy clinics today.

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