Doing hand stretching and strengthening exercises can help keep your thumb flexible and the joints stable. Often in thumb OA, the tissue between your thumb and index finger feels very tight. You can reduce tightness and improve thumb flexibility by utilizing heat therapy, following the massage techniques, and gently stretching the thumb in order to maintain or improve mobility. Also, strengthening the muscles that surround the thumb can help enhance the stability of your CMC joint.
Recommended exercises for thumb arthritis:
“Place and Hold”: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger so that they form a circle. Now, balance the middle joint of the thumb using the opposite hand so that your thumb joint is marginally bent. Pinch the fingertips jointly and remove the supporting hand while maintaining the circle position. Gradually, increase the force of the pinch until it feels like the circle will collapse and the thumb will lose its bent position, and then relax your fingers. Do this ten times.
Radial abduction stretch: Rest your hand on a table, palm down. Spread your thumb away from the hand, opening your palm wide. Hold for five to ten seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 10 stretches.
“C” exercise: Place your thumb and fingers in the shape of the letter C as if you are holding the tennis ball. Cling to this position by tensing the muscles lightly, for five to ten seconds before relaxing. Repeat this for ten repetitions. You can make this exercise more challenging by applying a rubber band around your thumb and fingers while holding the “C” position.