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Evaluation of the patient with thumb pain

James Bray, MD
Sara Neal, MD
Section Editor
Karl B Fields, MD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Injuries to the hand, wrist, and fingers, including the thumb, are common. According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for the year 2004, 11.3 percent of all visits to United States emergency departments involved such injuries [1].

This topic will review how to perform the initial evaluation of patients with thumb pain, whether from injuries or other conditions. Finger and thumb anatomy and detailed discussions of specific injuries and conditions are found separately. (See "Finger and thumb anatomy".)

For finger and hand injuries: (see "Distal phalanx fractures" and "Middle phalanx fractures" and "Proximal phalanx fractures" and "Digit dislocation reduction" and "History and examination of the adult with hand pain" and "Overview of metacarpal fractures").

For wrist injuries: (see "Evaluation of the adult with acute wrist pain" and "Distal radius fractures in adults" and "Scaphoid fractures" and "Overview of carpal fractures").

For other conditions: (see "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of gout" and "Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis" and "Overview of hand infections" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of osteoarthritis").

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 19, 2016.
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  3. Hong E. Hand injuries in sports medicine. Prim Care 2005; 32:91.
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  8. Merrell, Greg, and Slade, Joseph F. Dislocations and ligament injuries in the digits. In: Green's Operative Hand Surgery, 6th ed, Wolfe, SW, Hotchkiss, RN, Pederson, WC, Kozin, SH. (Eds), Elsevier, Philadelphia 2011. Vol 1, p.323.
  9. Rockwood, CA, Green, et al. Rockwood and Green's Fractures in Adults: Part 1., 3rd, JP Lippincott, New York 1991.
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