12 Tips for Living With Chronic Thumb Pain and Carpal Tunnel

I apologize if you’re family or a friend, you’ve heard this story. Heck, you’ve not only heard it you’ve lived it with me! I’m not normally a whiner but I AM pretty verbal about what I discover in my research and my attempt to live a healthy life. 🙂 If you’ve stumbled onto this post searching for information then welcome! I offer up my story and share with hope that someone who is struggling may find insights through my experience.

I know I’m not the only one who suffers with this. By nature, women face a triple threat of risk factors when it comes to arthritis: biology, genetic predisposition, and hormones.  I know quite a few men suffer as well; take my father-in-law for example, he’s a retired rancher has similar painful thumb issues.  My journey began over 12 years ago when tingling hands began waking me at night with strange sensations of nerves being pinched off and then what felt like blood rushing back into the bizarre numbness. At the same time, I began finding any hand work like gardening, weedeating, appliqué, knitting, or time spent rotary cutting my pieces for quilts was painful for my thumbs.

Tip #1. So I began using ergonomic tools like Martelli’s Ergonomic Rotary Cutter and Fiskar’s cushion handled spring loaded scissors  and found they truly help with repetitive strain/discomfort.60R-thumb

9921_P2_HRTip #2. I found stretching helps. Yoga’s downward dog position is great to open up the tension and tightness in hands.

Tip #3 Rest from hobbies. Give your body a break, this  definitely helps.

Tip#4 Try Grastoning. I found this through a chiropractor in Austin and it really seemed to help, as long as I continued to receive the technique.

Tip # 5 Climate matters!  Moving from a fairly dry climate in Texas to a damp one in Portland, Oregon then onto a cold and wet one in Nashua, New Hampshire didn’t help the pain. Oh yeah, there’s a reason folks retire in Florida and not the cold northern climates.

Tip #6 Wear soft splints during the day and hard splints at night. Seek medical input.  I sought help from an orthopedic doctor and he prescribed physical therapy which sadly, only caused more severe pain because it turned out I had mal-alignment in my thumb joints. Apparently, the x-rays he insisted on were fairly useless. :/ Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did on this.

Tip # 7 Chiropractic help!  Shortly there after, I lucked out and found a great chiropractor who’d adjust my thumbs and the pain instantly went away!  I think I scared her the first time she adjusted me because I burst into tears! The pain instantly stopped!! I could actually move my hands pain free! I was amazed and thrilled. As long as she adjusted me regularly, I was good. I did  find that it was only for a brief periods of time and with any of my normal activity eventually my thumbs fell back out of alignment.  Simple things like folding socks, holding a paint brush, pulling on my bra strap, or picking up a purse to toss on my shoulder caused severe sharp pain.



This EXPLAINED it! This was what kept happening to my thumb joints! No wonder it hurt so bad!

After years, I found the picture on the right and I was amazed!  This explained it!! This was what kept happening to my poor lil thumbs, why they kept hurting so bad! I can only tell you now that indeed, it felt as if my thumb was out of joint and what’dya know? Turns out it was! Notice the image of the overlapping joints on the right. And, by now I’d began to develop a inflamed bump at the base of my thumbs.   So, when this condition continues with enough time it develops into the following:



Imagine bone against bone! Chronic pain and inflammation insued.

Tip # 7 Gluten isn’t your friend. Now, I must say for sometime I also found relief with dietary changes. The same chiropractor told me that gluten in my diet could be an issue and was certainly not helping with inflammation.  So, I gave it a try. I totally cut out  gluten, which took quite a bit of studying and was a bit of a learning curve, but helped!  And, when I’d test it and splurge on something, with gluten, the reaction was severe. It was as if an icepick had stabbed the joint!!  No kidding.  It made that kind of difference.  That bought me a few more years.

GSFOODP-01_390x430Tip # 8 Try homeopathic paths to pain relief. Throughout the years of my journey I also found relief when I tried a more homeopathic approach to the pain. I discovered that an imbalance in one’s body’s PH can cause inflammation as well and drank enough PH ION Green Superfood that it seemed to helped.

Tip #9 Give the crazy a whirl. I also invested in an Ionic Foot Detox bath and felt it helped with inflammation. I’m fairly certain you can tell, I’m not a huge proponent of our current medical system’s trend to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.

VITALITY_MOTION-Fingerless-Gloves_Copper-StripeTip # 10 Try Tommy Copper compression gloves, I still wear these.  I have no idea if the copper, that is woven into the  fabric, helps or if it’s the compression all I know is they help when I wear them in cooler weather.


Clearly, I’ve tried every natural approach I could find.  Then finally, when I’d exhausted every avenue I knew of and Aleve had become a constant friend, this past summer I took the plunge. My family had patiently listened to my aches and pains, accommodated my increasing inability to open packages and jars, adjusted their diets along with mine, and watched as the condition worsened over the years.  They finally encourage me to stop struggling and seek a hand specialist for help.

Tip # 11 Find a GREAT doctor! After much research I set up an appointment with a hand surgeon who has repeatedly been listed as one of Dallas’ best doctors specializing in hand issues. For me it helped that he was a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Southwestern Medical School, current on new procedures and techniques. Dr. Ellis advised that after tests were completed, I had severe carpal tunnel issues and severe osteo-arthritis in my cmc basal thumb joints.  My dominant hand was addressed.  He offered cortisone injections as an option for treatment but as I’ve had negative issues with cortisone injections in the past and am not a huge proponent of the side effects on internal organs, I chose to have surgery.  There were two options, either to have my thumb joint fused which would stabilize the joint and allow me to lift heavy items but would not give me much range of motion, OR arthroplasty.  No choice for me!  I need motion with all I do.

Tip # 12 Do your research!  It’s your body, your recovery.  Do your research. Here are a few more sites I’ve Pinned with info that may help: http://www.pinterest.com/sewlo/arthroplasty/

The process has been a long one and the journey’s not complete but I promise there’s hope if you too suffer with this kind of pain as you can see there are many options to help along the way.



2 Comments on “12 Tips for Living With Chronic Thumb Pain and Carpal Tunnel

    • It’s a bit tricky to use if you’re use to the other type of rotary cutters. But, once you get the hang of it it’s a dream like you said, “Cuts through more layers of fabric” than you’d think possible! I think their blades last longer and are more affordable than most. One issue I’ve had is the bolt tends to wear out tho. All of the sudden it feels like you’re riding on a flat tire, so to speak. Wish they’d get a better stronger bolt. Wonder if lube might help?! ;D

      Liked by 1 person

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