Opponens Pollicis Referred Pain Pattern

The Opponens Pollicis Muscle

The opponens pollicis is a muscle that connects the thumb to the wrist. Trigger points in the muscle cause pain in the thumb and inside of the wrist.


Opponens Pollicis Muscle

Where Is The Opponens Pollicis Muscle?

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

What Movements Does It Control?

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

For detailed muscle anatomy: Opponens Pollicis Anatomy

What Pain and Symptoms Are Associated With The Opponens Pollicis Muscle?

  • 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

TWD Recommends

Jar grips should be in every kitchen to open jars and bottles to help prevent injury to the hand and arm muscles. So many painful arm, wrist, and hand injuries happen trying to open sealed lids on jars. Great for those with hand and wrist arthritis. Works on door knobs too!

What Causes Trigger Points In the Opponens Pollicis?

  • 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

TWD Recommends

Whether the pain in your hands is caused by trigger points, 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 is reinforced so that they will not fray with wear or during washing.

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.

If the pain in the thumb, especially around the thumb joints is  unrelenting and you need relief, 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.

Opponens Pollicis Trigger Point Treatment

The opponens pollicis muscle is easy to self-treat. Using the index finger knuckle of the opposite hand apply pressure to the front and back of the thumb pad. Rub from the base of the thumb down toward the wrist. When you find a tender spot or suddenly feel pain in the wrist, stop and apply pressure to that spot for 10 seconds, then continue. This also works well if the muscle is sore and tight.

When done, start at the bottom of the thumb and massage up the gently pulling upwards. If that causes pain, lessen the pressure or stop. Then open the hand wide, spreading the fingers apart to give all the hand muscles a good stretch.

Trigger points respond best to several 1-2 minutes treatments spread throughout the day.

I also recommend using a small hard ball to roll the palm of the hand. Place the ball on a table and slowly roll the ball using the palm. You should use some pressure, but just enough so that it feels good. Do this for a minute on each hand to help with hand flexibility as well as pain relief.


TWD Recommends

Massage balls are an easy and effective treatment for muscle pain throughout the body. Most people should roll the palms of their hands and feet everyday to help with muscle flexibility and catch trigger points in the early stage.

The Flex Fixx Massage Balls are a set of 3 varying sized balls that can be used on muscles throughout the body. The set includes a user manual that includes instructions for treating various muscles. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook recommends massage balls as a treatment method for many muscles. If you are interested in self-treating muscle pain, the balls and the workbook are worth the investment!

Interesting facts:

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.

Clinical diagnoses to which the opponens pollicis muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • 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:

TWD Recommended Pain Gels For Injury And Arthritis:

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. You should keep Somba on hand, it provides almost instant relief for muscle and joint pain. (Not sold in stores)

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain-relieving gel recommend for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. If your pain is from a recent injury use Biofreeze. It is excellent to use on sprains, strained and sore muscles and joints.