Abductor pollicis longus pain

The abductor pollicis longus muscle assists with thumb movement along with 2 other muscles. Aside from flexing and extending the thumb, it also assists with wrist flexion.

What are the indications?

  • Pain at the base of the thumb radiating into the surrounding structures
  • If the thumb is used, there is pain or discomfort.
  • Difficulty and discomfort when performing daily tasks such as holding a pencil or a glass of water.

Possible causes?

Abductor pollicis longus pain

Pain at the base of the thumb radiating into the surrounding structures.

There are certain activities that can contribute to abductor pollicis longus pain such as:

  • Continuous activities where the thumb is in a pincer movement such as in writing for extended hours without any breaks.
  • Engaging in activities that involves placing downward pressure on the thumb such as when massaging.
  • Individuals who engage in sewing or crocheting using the hands for long hours as well as painters and musicians

What are the risk factors?

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Radiculopathy at the C6 level of the cervical spine
  • Dupuytren’s contracture
  • Dysfunction or irregularities of the carpometacarpal joint


If the abductor pollicis longus muscle is damaged which triggers pain and difficulty in using the thumb, there are several treatment options available. The initial line of treatment is usually conservative.

Cold therapy

  • A recommended treatment is called Biofreeze which is a pain-relieving gel. It is ideally used for newly sustained injuries to the abductor pollicis longus that leads to thumb pain. In addition, it is also the recommended maintenance treatment for overuse injuries. The gel is applied gently in the area in the front and rear of the thumb for relief.
  • An ice wrap not only provides relief from pain but also compression to alleviate the swelling.

Heat therapy

Heat can also be used as a form of treatment for abductor pollicis longus pain. For relief from pain, the Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is used. It can provide lasting relief from the pain by warming up the area and reduces the inflammation, pain and stiffness

Thumb and wrist support

Pain can be alleviated by using wrist or thumb supports to immobilize the area for healing. It is important to note that supports or braces not only provides support for the wrist, but also maintains thumb stability.

The support or brace to be used must be lightweight and will not cause and discomfort. These are highly ideal for those who engage in prolonged writing or painting.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on abductor pollicis longus pain is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage muscle and tendon injuries by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.



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