Opponens Pollicis

General information

Opponens pollicis is a triangular muscle of the hand that allows the thumb to oppose the fingers.

Literal meaning

The muscle that places the thumb on the opposite side of the hand.

Interesting information

Opponens pollicis is part of a group of skeletal muscles of the hand, called the thenar eminence, that are responsible for allowing the thumb to touch the tip of the other fingers on the same hand.

Injury to the opponens pollicis is often mistaken for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. More correctly referred to as Blackberry thumb, the opponens pollicis are the muscles that are responsible for text messaging or cupping a computer mouse. A sharp pain of the hand underneath the thumb and down into the inside of the wrist may best describe the symptoms of injury, which may occur due to repetitive use of the muscle or tendons. NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, will help with pain and inflammation. Other treatments include stretching and massaging the opponens pollicis.

Origin

Trapezium and transverse carpal ligament.

Insertion

Metacarpal bone of the thumb on the radial side.

Function

Flexion on the thumb’s metacarpal at the first carpometacarpal joint.

Aids in opposition of the thumb.

Nerve supply

Recurrent branch of the median nerve.

Blood supply

Superficial palmar arch.

Opponens pollicis

Relevant research

Palmar and digital hyperhidrosis occurs when the body produces an excessive amount of sweat in the hands and the fingers, which can interfere with daily activities. A study involving twenty patients with the condition tested the effectiveness of botulinum toxin injections to thenar eminence, digits, and the palm of the hand. The experiments showed the reduction of sweat, but pain and muscle weakness became an issue. The dominant hand of those who experienced pain or weakness endured most of the pain, while the less dominant hand had little pain. For those with palmar and digital hyperhidrosis, the options for treatment are expensive. Treatment with the botulinum toxin is effective but costly. Surgery, on the other hand, could be reimbursable, though more dangerous. Eight of the twenty patients had previously considered surgical means to solve the problem before undergoing the botulinum treatments. After treatment, six of those eight individuals stated that they would pay out of pocket to continue the treatments rather than take the risks associated with surgery.

Solomon, B, Hayman, R. (2000). “Botulinum toxin type A therapy for palmar and digital hyperhidrosis”. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. 42:6, 1026-1029.

Opponens pollicis exercises

Thenar eminence muscle massage

Begin by interlacing the fingers with a golf ball placed between the thenar muscles. Roll the golf ball up and down until finding the point of tension. Once found, roll the golf ball in circles over the area to release the tension. Repeat this massage as needed to release tension.

Opponens pollicis stretch

Begin by extending the hands out, palms up. Take one hand, reach it behind other arm, and grasp onto the thumb. Pull the thumb away from the body to the side (hyper-abduct) with the hand that is grasping it. Hold the position for twenty seconds. Repeat as needed.

Opponens pollicis exercises

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