Pain between thumb and index finger‏- what causes it and how to deal with it

Pain between thumb and index finger

A working thumb is extremely useful for grasping and holding things. There are two main reasons for any kind of pain between thumb and index finger- nerve damage or a strain on the muscle.

Muscle Strain

The main cause for the pain between thumb and index finger is usually caused by some sort of strain in the muscle. A thumb sprain is an injury to the most important ligament in the thumb. If a person tears the main ligament at the base of the thumb, their grasping ability will be low.

Causes for a Strained Muscle

Most strained muscles happen by putting extreme pressure on them when on impact with something, typically caused by falling. When a person falls, it’s normal for them to extend the arm to make less impact when hitting the ground. The way a person lands on their hand can stretch or tear the muscle, causing long-lasting pain.

What are the most common types of thumb sprains?

it is common for the ligament between the thumb and index finger, called the ulnar collateral, to be sprained. Injury to this ligament is sometimes called “skier thumb” because it’s common among skiers. It happens after a skier falls and the pole they’re holding pushes in the had to bend the thumb back into an unnatural place. Jamming the thumb onto the floor when falling or jamming it on a ball or teammate in sports is another cause for the sprain.

The radial collateral ligament may also be hurt, but it is much less likely than the ulnar.

How can you treat a thumb sprain?

Typically, x-rays are taken to be assured that the bones in the hand or fingers are not broken. The doctor will examine the area between the thumb and index finger to figure out if the ligament is torn. If it is only torn partially, it can be fixed with a cast or a splint. If the ligament only has a partial tear, the doctor will immobilize the thumb joint with a bandage, cast or a splint until healed. Placing an ice pack on the thumb, usually two times a day for two to three days, eases the pain and swelling. For the first threes weeks after the sprain, the splint will need to be worn at all times. Afterward, strengthening exercises can be done with the splint replaced back on after every session. Exercise is important and should be done for two to 3 weeks until swelling and tenderness is completely gone.

Tears that are more serious, like a complete ulnar collateral ligament tear, are typically treated with surgery to fix the ligament. Sometimes the ligament must be reconstructed. Surgery is needed to regain normal movement with these types of tears. The surgery involves reconnecting the ligament to the bone. When a ligament tears off of the bone, fragments of bone are often pulled off with it. If this happens, then during the surgery the bone pieces might be removed or put into the right position and pinned or screwed. Sounds painful, but after surgery, a short cast or splint will be put on for six to eight weeks while it heals.

Symptoms of a Thumb Sprain:

– difficulty grasping items between the thumb and index finger.

– pain may not be present right away.

– bruising



People often ignore a sprained thumb hoping that it will heal itself. If not treated correctly, it could lead to instability, weakness, and arthritis. If it gets this bad, down the road it could lead to surgery to rebuild the whole ligament using tissue from another part of the arm. Joint fusion procedures are also an option.

Nerve Pain

The other cause of the pain between thumb and index finger is caused by the nerves in our body. Stain on the nerves come as a result of repetitive motion, unbalanced posture, the effect of old surgeries or injuries and even stressful habits.

Symptoms of nerve damage causing pain between thumb and index finger:



-the feeling of pulling or drawing sensation like a tight line going through forearm into the hand.

The pulling and drawing sensation is typically felt when moving the arm. Resting elbow on hard surfaces are usually when symptoms are felt the most.

Every nerve and blood Bessel is closed into an encasing of fascia that is present to protect the nerve from any kind of wear and tear as it moves with the body. An adhesion is a bundle of that fascia when it gets thickened and sticky. Because of the design of the nerves and vessels, they are likely to develop adhesion. The ulnar nerve should be able to slip and slide through its enclosure and be protected by the fascia that encases it. In a condition called Ulnar Tunnel Syndrome, the body senses strain and creates the adhesion that glues the nerve to the ulnar tunnel. Each time a joint is moved or bent or straightened, the nerve gets tugged on and irritated, creating and adhesion. This causes the nerve to fire inappropriately and can lead to the numb, tingling sensation and even pain.

Treating Nerve Pain

Tight muscles need to be lengthened so they no longer compress the nerve and adhesions can be peeled away from the tunnel so the nerve can move freely in its sheath once again.

Both of these types of pain between thumb and index finger issues need to be restored to a normal condition before the pain will subside.