The opponens pollicis muscle contributes to pain in the thumb and inside of the wrist.

Opponens Pollicis Muscle Pain: Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain is felt on the inside of the thumb
  • Pain is felt in the wrist just below the thumb
  • Pinching using the thumb and fingers is painful
  • Difficulty holding objects between the thumb and fingers such as pens, pencils, needles for hand sewing or knitting
  • Wrist pain is often considered to be a sprain or strain of the wrist

Where is the Opponens Pollicis muscle located?

The opponens pollicis muscle connects to the bottom bone of the thumb (1st metacarpal) to a bone in the wrist (trapezium).

What movements do the Opponens Pollicis control?

  • Moves the thumb up and in toward the fingers
  • Helps bend the thumb

Activities that cause opponens pollicis muscle pain and symptoms:

  • Activities that require constant use of the thumb and fingers in a pincher motion
  • Activities that require constant downward pressure using the thumb ie massage therapist
  • Extended periods of knitting, crocheting, or hand sewing
  • Extended periods of writing with a pen or pencil
  • Artistic painting
  • Playing musical instruments such as the violin, cello and guitar
  • Pulling weeds

Opponens Pollicis Muscle

You use the opponens pollicis muscle when you bend your thumb and move it in toward the palm of the hand.

Interesting facts about the opponens pollicis muscles:

It is one of three muscles of the thenar eminence. The thenar eminence is found on the palm of the hand just below the thumb, what we call the thumb pad.

Opponens Pollicis Muscle Pain and Symptoms Can Be Similar To and Contribute To These Medical Diagnosis:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • De Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis
  • Carpometacarpal dysfunction
  • C6 or  C7 radiculopathy
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the opponens pollicis muscle:

Satellite Trigger Points Associated With The Opponens Pollicis:

  • Flexor Pollicis Brevis
  • Abductor Pollicis Brevis
  • Dorsal Interosseus

For detailed anatomy information: Opponens Pollicis Anatomy

Opponens Pollicis Muscle Pain Relief Recommendations

Cold Therapy Treatment For Pain In The Thumb and Wrist

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is a cold therapy gel that provides pain relieve for new injuries and is great as a maintenance treatment for over use injuries.  Cold therapy should be used on new and recent injuries instead of heat as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 times longer. If you have recently injured the opponens pollicis muscle or have unexplained pain that has started in the thumb and inside of the wrist, use Biofreeze. Rub the gel into the wrist, the thumb pad and thumb for pain relief.

Wrist Ice Wrap For Cold Treatment and Compression

The Pro Ice Wrist Wrap is a good choice for opponens pollicis pain and injury. I like this wrap because it not only provides cold therapy but also adjustable compression which helps relieve pain and swelling. For additional pain relief rub the area with BioFreeze five minutes before applying the wrap for extended treatment and pain relief.

Warm Therapy for Post Injury and Chronic Wrist / Thumb Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. It provides warmth without burning heat like other over the counter heating creams and gels.  It works well for post injury pain and stiffness. It is great for chronic arthritis pain as it can be applied several times a day. Apply Sombra to the inside of the wrist, pad of the thumb and thumb to ease the pain.

Wrist and Thumb Support For Pain Relief

If the pain in the thumb, especially around the thumb joints is  unrelenting and you need relieve, I recommend that you try the Mueller Thumb Stabilizer.

This brace not only provides support to the wrist, but also keeps the thumb stable.  I like this particular brace because it provides support at the base of the thumb, and the joint in the thumb. The brace is lightweight, breathable, fully adjustable for compression and can be used for either hand. Highly recommended for those who use the thumb and fingers in a pinching type motion regularly. Keep it on hand (pun intended) for those times when you need support and pain relief.

Compression Gloves For Support, Warmth and Pain Relief

Whether the pain in your hands is caused by a muscle injury or arthritis, compression has been shown to help with pain relief. The Imak Compression Arthritis Gloves are some of the best on the market.

The gloves provide gentle compression which helps decrease both pain relief and inflammation. The seams of the gloves are sewn to the outside so you will not have irritation or discomfort. The fingers opening are reinforced so that they will not fray with wear or during washing. I like this particular brand because the gloves are easier to get on and off than most other compression gloves. Reasonably priced too!

To determine your size measure straight across the widest part of your palm. Extra small: up to 2 3/4 inches wide. Small: up to 3 1/8 inches across. Medium: up to 3 1/2 inches across. Large: up to 4 inches across. Extra large: up to 4 1/2 inches across.

Self Treatment Help For Opponens Pollicis Muscle Pain

Do you know that trigger points or other dysfunction in the opponens pollicis muscle can cause sharp pain in the thumb and wrist?  Dysfunction in this muscle can make holding objects between the thumb and fingers very painful.

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief can help you treat this wrist and thumb pain by teaching you the techniques to find and eliminate trigger points. Author Clair Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you are suffering from sharp pain in the wrist and thumb  treating the trigger points in the opponens pollicis muscle of the hand can help reduce or eliminate you pain.  This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

Donna Martin

Massage Therapist Owner: Twelve years of experience working with clients with chronic pain, post injury pain, and post surgery pain. Muscle dysfunction is often overlooked but can hold the key to many pain conditions.

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