Thumb pain from texting – Opponens Pollicis

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Opponens Pollicis
Solving Thumb Pain: Have You Developed Trigger Points from Texting? 

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One of the features that sets human beings apart from most other animals is having opposable thumbs.  This simply means that we can reach our thumbs across our palms to touch our pinkies.

This ability may not seem that special at first, but many of our beloved handheld devices, including cell phones, rely heavily on this evolutionary advantage.  Texting especially uses our thumbs’ opposability.

The muscle that allows us to oppose our thumbs is aptly named the Opponens Pollicis.  Here is a picture showing this muscle’s location.

It should come as no surprise that with all this extra use from our handheld devices, this muscle has become an increasingly common area to find trigger points.  Body workers, musicians, and others who work in fields requiring the use of thumb strength also suffer from pain, weakness and other problems due to trigger points in the Opponens Pollicis.

So, just in case you might be one of those individuals who is on their handheld a lot (let’s face it … just about everyone) or in a profession that requires a lot of thumb use, let’s take a look at some tests and self-care tips to detect and resolve some trigger points!

*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional.  Please consult your physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.

 

(1) Quick Self-Test to Tell if You have Trigger Points in Your Opponens Pollicis:Pass

The test in this video demonstrates how to check for full range of motion of the Opponens Pollicis. Place your hand flat on a surface. Use your other hand to raise your thumb and attempt to place it on top of the knuckle of your index finger. A Passing result occurs when you can place and hold your thumb in this position.

Not Passing

Not Passing result occurs if you cannot stretch and hold your thumb in this position.

 


Simple Self-Care Remedies

Here are simple self-care tips for relieving myofascial pain and dysfunction in your Opponens Pollicis:

Step 1:  Warming Up with Moist Heat

To relax and warm up the fibers of the Opponens Pollicis, soak your hand in a warm bath or place your hand on moist heat such as a Fomentek bag for 10-15 minutes.

Step 2:  Compression 

Below are videos of three methods of compression.  As always when you find a tender spot, press in to tolerance and hold for 10 seconds while completing at least two full breaths in and out.  Then continue searching for more tender spots until the entire muscle is covered.

This first video demonstrates how to use your Index Knobber to resolve trigger points in the Opponens Pollicis.  

In this second video, we are using a small hard rubber ball to roll over the length of the muscle, stopping to treat all tender spots and taught bands. 

Third, the ball can also be used against a wall (as shown here) for greater strength of compression and less effort on your behalf.

Step 3:  Stretching & Range of Motion

Perform this stretching exercise 2-3 times per day to keep the Opponens Pollicis functioning well.

Perpetuating Factors: Posture

In addition to all the extra use our thumbs receive from our phones, tablets, kindles, and other handhelds, frequent poor posture while using them is a perpetuating factor for trigger points from head to fingers.

This video shows the proper seated and standing postures when texting to avoid compromising a number of important muscles and joints. If you are planning to be on your handheld quite a bit, as most of us are, these postures are good to practice. 

Happy self-care!

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