Pain between thumb and forefinger


Pain between the thumb and index finger can severely restrict everyday activities and is therefore a relevant problem. Common causes are muscle strain / overload, bleeding, inflammation, abscesses and nerve damage. If the pain persists or worsens, a doctor should always be consulted. Pain in the hand is usually harmless and only lasts a few days, but it can also require treatment or take a chronic course.


If there is pain between the thumb and forefinger, there are many, unfortunately rather unspecific, causes. Since the muscles, nerves and blood vessels are mainly located between the thumb and forefinger, these structures are usually the cause of pain. Common causes are muscle irritation, sore muscles, inflammation, nerve entrapment or hemorrhage. Bones, ligaments, and tendons are rarely the cause of pain because they are in direct contact with a single finger rather than between two fingers.

Read more about inflammation here: Inflammation in the finger

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common nerve compression syndrome. Usually by chance, the "median nerve" becomes relatively narrow and trapped under a ligament in the wrist. The median nerve is one of the larger hand nerves and supplies both the skin and the muscles of the first three fingers (thumb, index and middle finger). In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, there is pain and tingling in the first three fingers, as well as a reduced ability to bend said fingers (reduced strength). The syndrome is treated either conservatively by splinting or surgically by splitting the ligament under which the nerve is constricted.

Read more on the subject at: Carpal tunnel syndrome

Inflammation of the ball of the thumb

The ball of the thumb (thenar) is formed by the muscles of the thumb and the so-called "interosseous" (between the bony) muscles. Inflammation of the ball of the thumb is usually muscle inflammation. Causes for this are overloading or irritation of the muscles, a deep wound, migrating bacteria, a traumatic event or autoimmune causes.
Pain in the ball of the thumb, which can easily be confused, is also caused by osteoarthritis of the thumb saddle, rheumatic diseases, arthritis, inflammation of the optic vagina, phlegmon, abscesses, nerve diseases or hemorrhages. Inflammatory pain is usually permanent and worsened by movement and by pressing on the corresponding area. Resting, cooling and, if necessary, taking painkillers such as ibuprofen can alleviate the symptoms.A doctor should be consulted if the pain persists.

Read more on this topic at:

  • Thumb saddle joint osteoarthritis
  • Tendinitis

Concomitant symptoms

Along with pain between the thumb and index finger, swellings or hematomas (bruises) often occur. This would most likely indicate a bleeding, inflammation, or abscess.
In the case of nerve injuries, there is accompanying pain, usually also a tingling sensation in the affected area and, in a side-by-side comparison, a reduction in strength and a decline in the muscles. With almost all causes, a certain "relieving posture" can be determined in the patient. The thumb is usually opposed to relieve the pain. Opposition is the movement you make to be able to touch your little finger with your thumb.


Swelling between the thumb and forefinger can have many causes. The reason for this is that this area is mainly formed by soft tissue and muscles, which are very well supplied with blood and can therefore swell quickly and strongly. Common reasons are bruises, inflammation or abscesses as well as overloading / straining of the muscles.
There are many blood vessels between the thumb and index finger, which is why a traumatic event is the most common cause of swelling. This could be, for example, bruises or bruises. If, in addition to swelling, there is reddening of the affected area, a feeling of tension or very severe pain, this is more likely to indicate an inflammation or an abscess and should be clarified by a doctor.


Since pain between the thumb and index finger is a very unspecific symptom, an exact diagnosis is very difficult and should therefore be carried out by a specialist. If there is persistent, limiting or very severe pain in everyday life, this is necessary in any case. First, the doctor will ask a few questions about the precise characteristics of the pain and how it has progressed so far. This is followed by an examination of the hand for appearance, tenderness and function. A blood test and an ultrasound of the hand may be necessary. A diagnosis using an X-ray, an MRI of the hand or a CT is also possible.

Read more on this topic at: MRI of the hand


Many of the causes of thumb and forefinger pain do not require treatment. These usually include bruising, sore muscles, strain, strains, small inflammations and minor nerve damage such as pinching or bruising the nerve.
However, if the inflammation or abscess is major and persistent, antibiotic drug treatment or surgical cleavage may be necessary. If the nerves are injured or the entrapment is increasing, the nerves should be examined by a neurologist. In any case, protecting and cooling the affected area can be helpful.


A bandage can be used for various diseases that lead to pain in the area between the thumb and forefinger. A bandage is used to immobilize and stabilize the hand. Movements that cause pain should be reduced in this way. In diseases such as inflammation of the tendon sheaths, the hand should be given the opportunity to heal. The same applies to carpal syndrome, which in the early stages often causes pain in the area of ​​the thumb, index finger and middle finger at night. Whether a bandage really makes sense for the cause of the symptoms should be discussed with the attending physician.

Read more on this topic at: Wrist bandage


Similar to a bandage, kinesio tape is used to fix structures such as joints and muscles. The benefits of tape depend on the cause of the discomfort. If the pain comes from the wrist and radiates into the area between the thumb and index finger, tape can be quite useful. It can be applied individually and the pain-causing structures can be fixed according to personal needs. The first time you apply tape, you should have the tape wrapped around you by an experienced physiotherapist. You can then buy tape yourself and continue using it at home.

Read more on this topic at: Kinesio tape


The duration of the pain depends mainly on the cause. If it is just a bruise, a strain or an overload, the pain will only last for a few days while protecting the hand. With professional or everyday stress, the pain can under certain circumstances take a chronic course, which can make it necessary to switch to a gentler everyday life.
Regular use of the hand can not only slow the healing process, but also cause it to deteriorate. Inflammation, abscesses and nerve damage can be painful for significantly longer. In these cases, a doctor should be consulted in order to be able to initiate any necessary therapy (e.g. antibiotics). In any case, it is recommended to take care of the hand in order to shorten the duration.