Opponens Pollicis – Pain & Trigger Points

The opponens pollicis is a muscle in the area of your thumb and wrist and can cause pain in the carpal tunnel, the ventral side of the wrist and the thumb.

Here you will learn about what you can do against these muscular problems.

1. Pain Patterns, Symptoms & Differential Diagnoses

1.1 Pain patterns

If the opponens pollicis is tense or carries trigger points, it can lead to pain on the ventral side of the thumb and wrist.

The latter are often misinterpreted as a carpal tunnel syndrome – the symptoms seem confusingly similar, but they have their origin not in an impairment of the median nerve, but in trigger points of the opponens pollicis.

1.2 Symptoms, ailments & differential diagnoses

In addition to pain, disorders of fine motor skills often occur.

I have already described these in more detail on the adductor pollicis page.

Since this muscle usually develops problems along with the opponens, I would like to refer you to its page.

2. Origin & Insertion


  • Retinaculum flexorum
  • Os trapezium


  • Os Metacarpale I
  • The muscle is innervated by the ulnar nerve.

Trigger points are marked with an X.

3. Function

The opponens pollicis’ main function is providing the thumb’s opposing movement, hence its name.

That means it is moving your thumb towards the other fingers.

4. Opponens Pollicis – Trigger Point Activation

Again, I would like to refer you to the page of the adductor pollicis, due to both sharing the same conditions that overload the opponens.

5. Palpation

You can easily palpate the opponens pollicis by feeling it under contraction.

  • Place the index finger of the opposite hand on the ball of your thumb.
  • Now press thumb and index finger repeatedly against each other.
  • Try to feel the opponent contracting with each squeeze.
  • Try to feel the muscle’s entire course.

6. Self-massage of the Opponens Pollicis

You can massage the muscle with your knuckles or with a very small massage ball.

6.1 Self-massage with the knuckles

  • Bend your index finger in your middle finger joint and place it on your thumb.
  • Press your knuckle into the opponens and seek this way for painful tensions.
  • Massage each of these points by moving the affected hand up and down or “rotating” it.
  • Thus, the painful point moves over the knuckle and is massaged.


  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print