This is a series on arm and hand pain. If you missed the beginning, go back to the “Checklist of Causes.” In my Neuromuscular Therapy center near Boston, I treat arm and hand pain caused by texting and computer use.
When using the computer keyboard, typing often involves reaching out to the side (abducting) with the little finger to press the outer keys.
Overuse of the little finger muscles (abductor, flexor and opponens digiti minimi) can cause pain in the fleshy pad of the hand on the little finger side (hypothenar eminence). Leaning on the outside pad of the hand can cause pain by aggravating Trigger Points (hyperactive soft tissue nodules that refer pain) if the muscle is already tight. Abductor Trigger Points produce pain locally and refer into the fifth finger.
The abductor of the little finger attaches to a bony prominence at the wrist (pisiform bone) at the base of that finger and abducts the finger by it’s attachment to the outside of the base of the finger itself. The flexor and opponens of the pinkie have similar attachments and, with the abductor, form the fleshy pad of the hypothenar eminence. Existing literature doesn’t show differences in the referral patterns of these three muscles, but based on the Trigger Points in the opposing muscles in the thumb, it is safe to assume that the opponens of the pinkie also refers pain into the wrist.
Self-treatment involves compressing the hypothenar pad between the fingers of the other hand for 8-12 seconds or pressing down against the bone until a release is felt, then stretching the little finger back and toward the index finger.
The hand-cupping motion of the opponens of the thumb and pinkie is assisted by the palmaris longus and palmaris brevis muscles that pull the connective tissue in the palm tight. The next two posts are about the opponens muscles and the palmaris longus and brevis.