The opponens and adductor pollicis are the main troublemakers in thumb pain. You can relieve these muscles as well as your pain with a simple, yet effective self-massage.
On this page I will give you all the info you need, to successfully relieve these muscles and the pain that is caused by them. This information includes…
If the adductor and/or opponens pollicis are too tight or contain trigger points, you are very likely to experience pain in the region of your thumb and wrist, as you can see in the pictures below.
The deeper the red, the more common it is to feel pain in the respective area if the corresponding muscle is too tight or contains trigger points.
With too much tension or trigger points in the pollicis muscles, you are prone to feel pain when using your thumb, or even at rest if the muscles are affected severely.
These two muscles run from your wrist bones and your index finger to your thumb.
The Xs in the picture display common areas where trigger points often get activated. These are the areas you should check when feeling and massaging the muscle in order to relieve your pain.
The function of these two little muscles is to move your thumb towards your index finger – adductor pollicis – and towards your pinky – opponens pollicis –. This way you can grab, pinch, compress and squeeze things, no matter if hard or soft.
Without them you wouldn’t be able to write, sew or open jar tops. In short, you wouldn’t and couldn’t use your hands the way you are used to.
If you read already about the pollicis muscles’ functions, you will realize that you use them all day long, every day. Just think of any hand movement where you do not use your thumb…right, almost not existent.
The permanent use of your hands can become too much for the opponens and adductor pollicis. This is especially true if you use them hours long in a repetitive manner – e.g. computer work – or very hard – e.g. hard manual labor like plumbing –.
To put it in a nutshell: Every activity that requires long, repetitive or forceful pincer/pinching motions is prone to tighten up the pollicis muscles and thus to trigger pain, especially in your wrist and thumb. To prevent this from occurring, just massage the muscles after using them, and you are likely to be fine.
One last note: Fractures of the wrist often cause displacement of its bones and thus influence the surrounding muscles, resulting in increased muscle tension and trigger point development.
Sometimes the pain persists after the bones have healed. In this case, search in the opponens and adductor pollicis for tender and painful spots.
I recommend that you locate and feel the pollicis muscles during contraction.
That means, you will perform the muscles’ function and feel where on your hand they are contracting.
As you might know by now, it moves your thumb towards your index finger.
Thus, place your index finger on your opposite hand in the space between its thumb and index finger. Then put your palpating thumb on the back of the hand and pinch it.
Now press the thumb of your painful hand a couple of times against its corresponding index finger. With that movement you should be able to feel the muscle contracting.
For the self-massage you will try to identify a tender spot in the corresponding muscle, then exclusively concentrate on that area and massage it with 10 – 15 slow and precise strokes.
10 – 15 strokes are enough for one tender spot. When you are done, move on to the next tender area.
For the massage itself, you either roll the muscle between your thumb and index finger or you massage it with your index finger only.
Pay attention not to overdo it. Otherwise you might end up with strained muscles in your massaging hand. The best is, to keep the massage sessions short, or to use your index finger only.