The Germanic tribes used to refer to the thumb as "Dumo" or "Dume", which should mean something like "the fat one" or "the strong one". In the course of time, our current word "thumb" developed from this designation.

The thumb (Pollex) forms the first finger of one hand and can be placed opposite (opposed) to the other four fingers. Due to this anatomical peculiarity and the associated more extensive movement options, the thumb is given a special role under the fingers. Each finger has three finger bones (phalanx) on.
The thumb, however, is the exception here too and consists of only two finger bones. A proximal phalanx closer to the trunk and a distal phalanx further away from the body. The question of why the thumb consists of just two finger bones (phalanx) has preoccupied anatomists since the beginning of the era and cannot be answered with certainty to this day.

Saddle thumb joint

The Saddle thumb joint (Articulatio carpometacarpalis pollicis) gives the thumb its specialty in relation to the remaining fingers and optimizes them Gripping function the hand enormous. The thumb saddle joint is between the large one Polygonal bone (Trapezium) and the first Metacarpal bones. The articular surface of the bone has here both concave (inclined inward), as well convex (outwardly inclined) areas. Because of this, the bones can be moved back and forth, or side to side. Twists (Rotations), however, are only possible to a limited extent. The fact that this joint can move in two axes makes it similar to a conventional one Ball joint.

Ligaments and muscles

Numerous Tapes stabilize the saddle joint of the thumb, taking these from sheaths made of sinewy connective tissue are surrounded by Tendon sheaths. These protective covers prevent Tapes, annoy and surrounding Vessels at the contraction of the Forearm muscles be heavily used and possibly damaged.
The long extensor tendon (Flexor tendon) of the thumb even has its own tendon sheath. To the Stretching of the thumb saddle joint belong to the Extensor pollicis brevis muscle, Pollicis longus muscle and Abductor pollicis longus muscle.
Flexor pollicis brevis muscle, Flexor pollicis longus muscle, Abductor pollicis brevis muscle, Opponens pollicis muscle and Adductor pollicis muscle are primarily to the Flexor of the thumb saddle joint (see also Hand muscles).

Thumb pain

In the group of over 50s Women already complains every second about problems and pain in the thumb. Both Men however it is only every tenth. This can be explained by the hormonal influence that women are exposed to during their menopause decreased production of estrogens (the female sex hormones), apparently makes the joints, nerves, ligaments and vision more sensitive and more susceptible to diseases.

The pain can present itself as pulling, piercing, shooting or stabbing, especially with movement of any kind. However, since you need the thumb for almost every movement, it hurts permanently and can lead to a severe restriction of movement. In extreme cases this can lead to occupational disability.

Thumb saddle joint osteoarthritis

In the case of saddle joint osteoarthritis of the thumb, the pain comes from the wear and tear of the thumb. From wear and tear is affected here the lower part of the thumb, the thumb saddle joint (that's what's very close to the wrist). In technical jargon, this disease is also called Rhizarthrosis designated. The wear and tear is with rhizarthrosis age-related, so not through a genetic predisposition or another initial illness.

The pain that occurs is usually stabbing and pulling and only occurs at the beginning of rhizarthrosis when the joint is very stressed, for example when opening a soda bottle. root cause the pain is one inflammation, which between the bone components of the thumb saddle joint and which causes discomfort with every movement of the thumb and the associated rubbing of the bones against one another.

In the early stages of the disease you can anti-inflammatory ointments and creams still provide sufficient relief. If the joints wear and tear and the pain gets worse, you can take the strong anti-inflammatory drug Cortisone by means of a syringe directly into the joint capsule bring in and so relieve the pain. Sometimes it is also advisable to have a Rigid rail to put it on and keep the hand still for a while and no longer stress the joint. If all of these measures fail to provide adequate relief and the pain keeps getting worse, then a surgical intervention Consider removing the arthritic, worn bone and instead ligating the joint to stabilize it. Since, thanks to the latest medical technology, it is a relatively small procedure, patients are usually able to put pressure on the thumb joint just a few weeks after the operation and the function is almost as good and strong as with a natural joint. Another possibility would be that Use of a thumb saddle joint prosthesis.

Also read more on the topic : Thumb saddle joint osteoarthritis

Heberden osteoarthritis

Another disease is Heberden's osteoarthritis, also called Bouchard's osteoarthritis. This disease, too, mostly in older women is often noticeable with small nodules. This small nodules form mostly at the end joints and middle joints all fingers are also at the thumb joint and around. They cause pain when the thumb is moved. In addition, they are in the way and hinder the thumb in its movement, so that there can be restrictions here and the thumb on Loses strength.

Exactly where and why these small knots form has not yet been fully explored. However, there is a connection with signs of wear and tear in the case of strong and prolonged exposure, Inflammation and Hormonal influences. Often when a woman develops Heberden's osteoarthritis, the mother is also affected.

As a rule, however, the lumps are fortunately no longer causing pain and will soon regress if you treat them with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Cortisone ointments or syringes. If all attempts at treatment with the common medication do not work, there is the option of performing a surgical procedure and surgically the joint to stiffen with special screws or to be replaced by a prosthesis.


Kick the Pain mainly in the thumb while stretching on, it can be a Tendovaginitis de Quervain, commonly known as "Housewife thumb" designated. This is an overload phenomenon, which is also mainly Women over 50 concerns. The constant overload of the thumb and its tendons and ligaments can lead to a Tendinitis that always causes pain when trying to straighten the thumb. It is not the tendon itself that is inflamed, but rather the protective covering in which the tendon runs.

If the thumb is permanently overstrained, however, the tendon moves incessantly in this tendon sheath and thus leads to irritation and inflammation of the tissue. Classic movements are, for example, housework, long work on the computer and typing on the smartphone. Usually anti-inflammatory drugs help cortisone-containing ointments and creams. In more severe cases, the joint can be repaired with the help of a rail be immobilized and the joint gets the time it needs to regenerate itself. It is recommended to have one after the tendinitis has healed physical therapy to do and to get to know dangerous and harmful movement patterns in order to be able to avoid them in the future and thus to prevent a recurrence of the disease.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is inflammation and / or injury in the area of ​​the median nerve.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one illness, the to years Overuse and overloading of the wrist and especially of the thumb. Here, too, hormonal changes play an important role, so that once again women over 50 represent the largest group of patients.

Does anyone already have one Tendinitis gone through by the hand, elevated yourself for him / her the riskto develop carpal tunnel syndrome, also again. In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, the connective tissue on the wrist, which is constantly overloaded and which has become inflammatory and degenerative over time, affects the Median nerve presses, a nerve that runs right through the middle of the wrist, on the inside of the forearm, and that is responsible for supplying the hand. The nerve permanently has the feeling of being exposed to a stimulus and forwards this information to the brain, which in turn processes the incoming stimulus as usual and as uncomfortable tingling sensation, as Numbness In the hand or simply judged as pain, the symptoms usually occur with certain movements of the hand in which the nerve is additionally narrowed and irritated, or at night when the hand is perhaps in an awkward position.

The only definitive treatment option for carpal tunnel syndrome is a surgical intervention, in which the joint capsule of the wrist is opened and widened, giving the nerve more space and eliminating the irritating permanent irritation from the connective tissue. The procedure is part of the medical routine and is usually relatively uncomplicated, but one must consider that the hand must be immobilized for a while afterwards and of course no promise of complete healing can be given.

Snap thumb

Another widespread disease of the thumb is what is popularly known as "fast thumb" or "snap thumb" Tendovaginosis stenosans. Here, too, permanent overload, coupled with the hormonal changes of menopause, means that women over 50 are primarily affected. A certain genetic predisposition to the "snap finger" is also discussed. Due to variable processes in the tissue, the flexor tendon of the thumb swells over the years and it forms small nodules on the flexor tendon out. These small nodules are not problematic in and of themselves, but they become problematic if they are in an inconvenient place, namely near the so-called ring ligament on the thumb. The flexor tendon runs through this. If there are these small nodules, however, they get caught on the ring band and the thumb snaps back abruptly when they have pushed through the ring band and then loosened again.

Tendovaginosis stenosans can in principle affect all fingers, but since we humans use the thumb most often and most intensively, it usually occurs here. On here can a minor surgery find a remedy quickly. The ring ligament of the thumb is severed and the nodules can no longer restrict the movement of the flexor tendon of the thumb.


Another disease that this time can affect not only older women but also young girls is that Over leg, also called the ganglion. The upper leg can theoretically also appear on all fingers, but mostly the two thumb joints are affected. Put simply, an over leg is a hard capsule, the filled with liquid is and with its coarse structures presses on the joint capsule and so Causing pain. These transverse legs often come about through a weakness of the connective tissue. Here, too, the therapy consists in the surgical removal of the fluid-filled balloon.

Also read more on the topic : ganglion

Rheumatism and gout

A sore thumb or thumb joint and small nodules in and on the joints, tendons and ligaments can of course also hide a rheumatic disease or gout. A doctor can diagnose this by examining, palpating, ultrasound and testing the blood for specific components that are characteristic of a disease of this type. The therapy is then of course completely different from the problems described so far.

What is the best way to tape the tape of my thumb?

If you have compressed your thumb, and this is by far the most common injury that occurs in the area of ​​the thumb in everyday life, it can actually be useful to tape the thumb. Of course, it is important that before you get to work with the tape dressing, a doctor has ruled out that there is a bony injury, such as a broken thumb.

A tape treatment is an option for bruises and sprains as well as injuries to the ligamentous apparatus at the base joint and the saddle joint of the thumb. But not only with these classic sports injuries, but also with psychological overload of the thumb and its joints, such a tape can provide relief. This phenomenon is also popularly referred to as the so-called “cell phone thumb” and actually occurs primarily in people who spend many hours a day with their smartphone and who put excessive strain on their thumbs. In all of these cases, a kinesio tape on the thumb joint can stabilize it slightly and thus provide pain relief.

To tape the thumb you need 2 I-shaped tapes. The bandage should be applied with strong pull and worn for a maximum of seven days. In order to be able to stick the tape on correctly, the hand should be placed on the ulnar side, i.e. the one with the little finger, on a table or other flat surface. Then the entire length of the outside of the forearm is measured once over the inside of the wrist to the ball of the thumb and again back. Since the tape is glued with very strong tension, the tape can be shortened by about a quarter of the length.

The beginning, i.e. the base of the tape, is on the radial side of the forearm, i.e. the one with the index finger on it. First, the thumb is spread so far that it is, so to speak, maximally stretched (of course without causing pain). Then wrap the tape around the thumb joint twice. Then you continue to glue over the ball of the hand and over the inner surface of the wrist. The end of the tape then runs down the elbow side of the forearm to its back. Proceed in exactly the same way with the second kinesio tape, only that the course is stuck slightly offset to the first tape.

You can find more information on the topic here: Tap your fingers