Taping and Thumb Arthritis: Rapid Review

Hugo, J., and Valdez, K. Mobilization with movement and elastic tape application for the conservative management of carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis.  Journal of Hand Therapy, 28,  2015; 82-85  Practice Forum

The Skinny:  The authors demonstrated a useful technique for mobilizing the thumb CMC joint followed by the application of k-tape (kt tape thumb arthritis).  

In the Weeds:  The author began by describing a technique for mobilization with movement.  First, the MCP of the thumb is placed in neutral.  With manual techniques, the therapist reduces the CMC joint. In contrast, reducing the CMC, the therapist and patient work together to find the pain-free motion area.  Utilizing this manual glide technique, the therapist might need to play around to find the patient’s comfortable range.  The patient should then be asked to move the thumb.  If this movement is now pain-free, then the reduction technique was successful.  As the therapist holds the joint reduced, the patient is asked to move the CMC joint through extension/flexion, abduction/adduction; all of these should be completed within a pain-free range.  

Author used kinesio taping for thumb CMC arthritis.  While patient sits  with elbow at side at a 90 degree angle, 0%  percent tension is on the tape.  The kt tape for thumb arthritis is placed just below the IP joint of the thumb at the insertion of the EPL and follow parallel to the origin of the  EPL.  A second tape is applied over radial snuffbox.  Goals of the second piece of tape are to provide proprioceptive input and improve circulation.  

Bringing in Home: Mobilization with Movement and elastic taping can help manages symptoms of OA in the CMC joint.  Reported outcomes include a decrease in pain and improvements in thumb stabilization, 

Rating (o-5 )      https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/9wcPGSZvYlW7GKWDkuLF1Sr5UVI8TiOHwaE-p2ZnaVQKzNfx_6so4sntSzaj9MxHJ-uGDXitbxEUR5CXwVmNzp9KSlJU7KxrRGf3qcXmKhNsbI5R8yGhNTOK4_Uy-vEZ2zc8-4NShttps://lh4.googleusercontent.com/9wcPGSZvYlW7GKWDkuLF1Sr5UVI8TiOHwaE-p2ZnaVQKzNfx_6so4sntSzaj9MxHJ-uGDXitbxEUR5CXwVmNzp9KSlJU7KxrRGf3qcXmKhNsbI5R8yGhNTOK4_Uy-vEZ2zc8-4NShttps://lh4.googleusercontent.com/9wcPGSZvYlW7GKWDkuLF1Sr5UVI8TiOHwaE-p2ZnaVQKzNfx_6so4sntSzaj9MxHJ-uGDXitbxEUR5CXwVmNzp9KSlJU7KxrRGf3qcXmKhNsbI5R8yGhNTOK4_Uy-vEZ2zc8-4NS

It was a practice forum with a demonstration of the techniques for mobilization and taping.  The sample size is limited to one case study.  Perhaps a case series would be beneficial! 

I think a great tool to put in your tool box as a Therapist!! 

kt tape thumb arthritis

Image from: Hugo, J., and Valdez, K. Mobilization with movement and elastic tape application for the conservative management of carpometacarpal joint osteoarthritis.  Journal of Hand Therapy, 28,  2015; 82-85  Practice Forum


  1. Jean Piere on April 16, 2021 at 12:40 am

    Great review!
    I’d like to ask you how you decide between the use of kinesio-tape and the splinting for the CMC joint in this kind of cases. Is it depends on the stage of the OA?

    Thanks, Hand Therapy Academy. You’re awesome!

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