What Can Give a Thumb Joint a Clicking Sensation?

A clicking sensation that occurs when the thumb bends or straightens is a common symptom of stenosing tenosynovitis, or trigger thumb, according to WebMD. This clicking or snapping sensation is caused by a swollen thumb tendon sliding through a narrow tendon sheath.

A snapping sensation in the thumb is also associated with De Quervain’s tendinosis, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Tendons that travel from the wrist to the thumb become inflamed, causing painful friction and restricted movement. The condition may cause visible swelling at the thumb and wrist as well as increasing pain that spreads up the forearm.

A tendon connects the bones and muscles in the thumb, and normally, it glides back and forth through the protective sheath without hindrance, making it easy to flex the thumb, as WebMD explains. If the tendon or the membrane surrounding a joint becomes inflamed, the thumb may catch briefly or lock in place when moving between straight and bent positions. A “stuck” thumb can suddenly release as the tendon pushes it way through the sheath, causing painful snapping.

Trigger finger typically affects people who regularly perform repetitive or forceful finger movements or who frequently hold their hands in grasping positions, such as farmers, musicians and construction workers, according to WebMD. People with gout, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes also have a high risk of developing this condition, which is most common in people between ages 40 and 60.