Due to hurricane damage, the Havelock location is closed until further notice. Havelock therapists Hannah Zhang, Sarah Hall and Judy Hickes are available to see patients at the New Bern location. Please call the New Bern location at (252) 636-9800 to discuss your care.

What will a physical therapist do during a thumb arthritis test?

Thumb Arthritis Test

Thumb arthritis occurs when the cartilage carpometacarpal (CMC) joint ages and wears down. This kind of arthritis is fairly common, especially in older people. It cannot be cured, but it can be properly managed with the help of physical therapists. Are you someone who has thumb pain and stiffness that you believe may be caused by arthritis? If so, you may benefit from an assessment and then subsequent treatment by a physical therapist. A PT will determine if your thumb pain and stiffness is arthritis by conducting a thumb arthritis test.

3 steps a physical therapist is likely to take during a thumb arthritis test

  1. Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index finger — If the patient can touch the tip of their thumb to the tip of their index finger and create an “O” shape, this is usually a good sign. It is an indicator that they do not have arthritis in the thumb. If the patient makes a “D” shape, this indicates there may be arthritis.
  1. Use the traction-shift technique — If a physical therapist conducts this step, it typically involves pulling apart two ends of the joints in the thumb. If there is pain, this can indicate the presence of arthritis.
  1. Test pinch strength — One study found that people with arthritis in their hands have poor pinch strength. Your physical therapist could ask you to pinch something to assess your strength levels.


These are a few of the ways your PT can help you test your thumb dexterity. It’s important for physical therapists to determine whether you have thumb arthritis so that they can ultimately help you manage your arthritis symptoms.

We hope you choose us to help manage your symptoms

Keeping the body moving and limber is the best way to prevent the limiting of our functional mobility as we get older. Don’t let arthritis, lingering upper extremity pain or other age-related conditions prevent you from enjoying the activities you do on a daily basis. The caring physical therapists of Peak Performance Sports and Physical Therapy understand the importance of helping people stay active to keep up their quality of life. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from an age-related condition, like thumb arthritis, that affects your quality of life, please don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.