Thumb Pain Exercises

Thumb pain has multiple causes, including the overuse of the thumb joint, constant repetitive actions of the joint, tendinitis, injury to the joint, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis. Such pain can also cause a loss of gripping ability. To help relieve the pain, and possibly increase range of motion of the thumb and increase your thumb’s strength and flexibility, try a variety of thumb exercises.

Rubber Band Exercises

Rubber band exercises are ideal for thumb pain from constant repetitive use, such as texting or typing on a key board. They also help with strengthening the thumb’s base joint. Wrap an elastic band around your thumb and index finger. Pull them in opposite directions and return to the original position. Perform 20 repetitions. If needed, do both hands. Also try wrapping a rubber band around both thumbs. Lay your palms on a sturdy surface and pull your thumbs in opposite directions. Repeat 20 times. For additional relief, suggests you stop the action when pain arises, vary the hand you’re using and take breaks between sets.

Thumb-Wrist Stretch

The thumb-wrist stretch is ideal for those with thumb tendinitis, a condition caused by irritation of the thumb tendons. Make a fist and place the thumb of that hand inside it. Next, cock your wrist until you feel a pull at the back of your forearm. Next, rotate your first away from the body until the palm side of your hand is facing outward away from the body and your thumb side is pointing downward to the floor. Use your other arm to assist in the stretch. The hand of this other arm should be wrapped around the hand you’re using to stretch the thumb.

Thumb-Palm Exercise

This simple exercise especially helps those suffering from arthritis. It promotes range of motion for the thumb, lessens stiffness and keeps your thumb flexible. To start, hold out your hand on its side, with the thumb and index finger on top. Keep your elbows bent. Next, move your thumb away from your palm until you feel a stretch or pull. Keep your thumb at the level of your index finger. Return the thumb to the palm. Repeat as recommended by your doctor.


There may be specific or additional exercises for the conditions causing your thumb pain. In addition, exercise can make your thumb pain worse depending on the cause of the pain. For instance, performing exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles of a thumb suffering from degeneration will only worsen the symptoms and prolong your need for a splint. Thus, before trying any thumb exercises, consult your doctor for exercises that are best for you and your condition.

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