Thumb Joint Osteoarthritis (OA)

Signs of Thumb Joint Problems

     Are your thumbs causing you bother?

     You may be experiencing:

  1. Pain, Inflammation or Discomfort (particularly on gripping or twisting) at the base of thumb
  2. Tenderness when you press on the base of the thumb (sore thumb joint)
  3. Limited or stiff movement
  4. You may have thumb joint issues like carpometacarpal (CMC) joint pain and arthritis in the thumb joint.

Managing Thumb Osteoarthritis (OA)

     Effective ways of dealing with thumb osteoarthritis include: 

  1. Avoiding activities that cause thumb joint pain
  2. Wearing a splint to support the thumb and wrist
  3. Medication and injections 
  4. Radiotherapy
  5. Surgery – e.g. removing the trapezium bone or doing a joint replacement

Low-dose radiotherapy treatment can relieve all the symptoms of thumb OA and get you back to your normal activities.

Radiotherapy (also known as the external beam radiation therapy) is a way to reduce inflammation and pain at base of thumb. This leads to improved function in the thumb joints so that you can do the things that you need to with your hands and thumb – moving them properly with less stiffness, tenderness, swelling and pain.

What is Low Dose Radiotherapy?

Low-dose radiotherapy is a specialised technique that reduces pain and inflammation at the base of thumb by using very low dose and carefully controlled radiation.

Unlike the stronger radiotherapy used in cancer treatment, much lower doses of radiotherapy are used to treat thumb osteoarthritis (OA). The use of low radiation levels ensures that the treatment is very safe.

This is a non-invasive treatment that does not involve any injections or surgery. It is exclusively focused towards the affected areas of the thumb and does not affect the rest of the body.

It’s given as an outpatient, so that you can keep on doing your normal activities without needing a break during treatment. Since it is very low dose, it tends to have only very mild (if any) side effects.

A typical course of radiotherapy involves 6 treatments given over 2 to 3 weeks. Each treatment, delivered as an outpatient, takes less than 10 min. About 70% of patients may need a 2nd course of radiotherapy to maximize the benefits.

When should I consider Radiotherapy for Thumb OA?

Persistent pain and inflammation

If you still have thumb joint pain despite using self-help treatments (like wearing a splint) and medicines.

Medications aren't enough

Where simple pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs aren’t working well enough or are causing side-effects .

Symptoms are getting worse

If you notice increased pain and discomfort at the base of thumb.

You do not want surgery

If you are not suitable, for instance due to personal choice or other health conditions.

How Can Radiotherapy Help Thumb Osteoarthritis?

  1. Pain Reduction

Recent research shows that low-dose radiotherapy reduces pain from thumb arthritis / OA in around 7 out of 10 people.

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Scientific evidence shows that radiotherapy reduces inflammation, leading to reduced swelling in the affected thumb joints. This reduction helps reduce pain and improves joint function.

  1. Improved Mobility

People having radiotherapy for thumb OA may report substantial improvements in overall joint performance, which can include increased ease of movement, allowing for greater thumb mobility.

  1. Addresses Multiple symptoms

Radiotherapy can help with various symptoms such as swelling, stiffness, and discomfort in the thumb joints. This can improve overall quality of life for those dealing with thumb joint problems.

  1. Sustained and Long-lasting Benefits

Some studies suggest that the benefits of radiotherapy, especially in pain reduction, may last over a considerable period, resulting in long-lasting relief.

Is Radiotherapy Treatment for Thumb Arthritis Safe?

Low-Dose Radiotherapy is a very safe treatment for thumb arthritis / OA. This is due to various factors:

Low-Dose Radiotherapy

This ensures effective treatment with very few side effects.

Precise Treatment

Radiotherapy is focused towards only the specific areas of the hurting thumb causing trouble. This way, the surrounding areas are not affected by the treatment.

Mild Side Effects

Low-dose radiotherapy typically causes only very mild redness or perhaps some dry skin in the treatment area.


Radiotherapy treatment is a non-surgical way to treat osteoarthritis in the thumb joints. This allows you to avoid the risks involved in invasive surgery.

Treatments for osteoarthritis-Radiotherapy-UK

What are the Side Effects of Radiotherapy for Thumb Osteoarthritis (OA)?

Radiotherapy is a straightforward outpatient procedure which doesn’t need an anaesthetic, injections or surgery. You can easily schedule it around your regular work or other activities.

Before starting radiation therapy for arthritic thumb joint, we’ll thoroughly discuss any potential side effects with you. We will provide comprehensive information about the risks and benefits of the treatment, so that you can make the best decisions possible.

The side effects of low dose radiotherapy tend to be very mild. These can include:

  • Skin Reactions

You may get a bit of redness, dryness, or irritation in the treated area of the thumb. Typically, these effects disappear a couple of weeks after finishing the treatment.

  • Tiredness

Sometimes people feel a bit tired during or after the treatment. However, this tends to settle down once the treatment has finished and energy levels usually improve quickly after that.


Do You Have Any Questions?

Explore detailed answers to common queries on our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Taking the First Step towards Easing Your Thumb Pain

Expect a quick response within one working day. If you would like to set up an appointment, we will do our best to accommodate your preferences.

Initial consultations for the treatment of arthritic thumbs are available in Nottingham, London, or Guildford for your convenience. And for follow-up treatments, we have centres across the UK in places like Nottingham, Birmingham, London, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Elstree, Chelmsford, Bristol, Windsor, Guildford, Maidstone, Southampton, and Portsmouth.