From Dr. Natalie Meiri’s Clinical Pearl Stories:

A Chiropractor Can Treat Thumb Carpometacarpal Arthritis

Author: Natalie Meiri, D.C.  Posted: 10/17/20


This was a 59 year old patient who enjoyed sewing and “machine quilting”. To be HIPAA compliant, I will call her Milly instead of her real name. Milly was a patient who was treating with me for her neck and back problems for many years.  Then one day, she told me her thumbs were hurting constantly. Her pain ranged from moderate to severe and was becoming disabling. Her hands felt stiff and weak.  Furthermore, she was loosing dexterity in her hands. Gripping and pinching activities aggravated her condition and she would even drop objects.  Milly wasn’t able to sew or “machine quilt” due to her thumb(s) condition.


Her thumbs had been hurting for over 10 years on and off, but now it was consistent, severe pain. She didn’t know how it started and couldn’t remember any injuries to her thumbs. Therefore, she had seen an orthopedic hand surgery specialist who told her it was “bone on bone” arthritis.  He diagnosed it as osteoarthritis at her trapeziometacarpal joints (joint at the base of thumb close to wrist) — also known as the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint seen on her x-rays on both hands.  Moreover, he said she would need surgery if conservative treatments failed. 


Milly didn’t want surgery if at all possible, but was in severe pain.  Therefore, she got a cortisone (steroid) injection and was given a hand splint to wear. This gave her some relief for a few months. But then due to the pain, she got another cortisone injection. Yet again a few months later, the same pain was back. She came to see me after the second injection, since she knew continuous and repeated steroid injections have been shown to weaken the joint capsule and the surrounding area.



Milly’s examination

Upon examination, she had limitation of range of motion, muscular weakness and positive tests for thumb carpometacarpal arthritis of both hands. Milly’s x-rays of her hands showed  carpometacarpal joint space loss and degenerative arthritic findings worse in her right than her left hand. The carpometacarpal joint of the thumb is formed by the trapezium bone of the wrist and the first metacarpal bone (metacarpals are long bones within the hand that are connected to the carpals, or wrist bones, and to the phalanges, or finger bones) of the thumb.


More precisely, Milly had osteoarthritis of her carpometacarpal joints of her thumbs. Osteoarthritis is a “wear and tear” arthritis with inflammation of bones in a joint due to a reduction of cartilage. The “bone on bone” reference made by her orthopedist refers to the increased severity of osteoarthritis in a joint. In a healthy joint, cartilage aids in the movement of the joint between the two bones. “Bone on bone” refers to this lack of cartilage because of advanced osteoarthritis.


Milly’s chiropractic treatment

The goal of Milly’s treatment was firstly to relieve pain. Secondly, conserve and restore the mobility of the carpometacarpal joints of her thumbs.  Finally, to preserve and strengthen surrounding musculature. 


Treatment consisted of:

-Chiropractic manipulation or mobilization of the carpometacarpal joints of her thumbs, and associated regions consisting of her hands and wrists.                             

-Soft tissue manipulation (myofascial release, pressure points, postisometric relaxation) to the muscles and soft tissues (i.e., tendons, ligaments) involved.

-Home exercises for self stretching and strengthening muscles.

-Nutritional support for osteoarthritis were recommended  (i.e., glucosamine sulfate, boswellia, horsetail, SAM (S-adenosylmethionine), Vitamin E, Niacinamide, Vitamin C) along with the homeopathic consultations in which specific remedies for Milly’s condition were prescribed.

Milly gradually got pain relief and improved function in her thumbs so she could resume sewing and “machine quilting”.  It took almost a year of treatment before Milly was completely pain free and had full mobility of her thumbs. 

A Chiropractor Can Treat Thumb Carpometacarpal Arthritis

Thumb carpometacarpal arthritis is found primarily in postmenopausal females over 50 years old, due to hormonal and structural factors. However, since I treated Milly, I have also treated a number of patients that were men with similar problems in their hands from osteoarthritis.  Sometimes the patient’s cause for the thumb/hand pain was due to certain hereditary conditions (joint ligament laxity and malformed joints), injuries (sprains), diseases that change the normal structure and function of cartilage (i.e., rheumatoid arthritis), and jobs that put high stress on the thumb joint.


Meiri Chiropractic in West Palm Beach offers a range of treatments to bring pain relief for a variety of conditions. A West Palm Beach chiropractor can treat thumb carpometacarpal arthritis naturally.   Contact us to learn more or to make an appointment with a chiropractor serving West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach today.



Meiri Chiropractic

5601 Corporate Way, Ste. 102

West Palm Beach, FL 33407