A client came into the office today and told me that his thumbs were sore, so much so that he could hardly hold the steering wheel to drive to my office.
He’s a tennis player and a few days ago he played right after a heavy rain, so the tennis ball was soaking wet. He knew that the ball was heavier then normal, but he didn’t think anything about it because he’s played tennis for years and he never had a problem before.
The problem came from the fact that since the tennis ball was wet, he had to squeeze the tennis racket tighter then normal every time he took a swing.
There is a muscle called opponens pollicis that draws your thumb into the center of your palm. This muscle originates on the bridge to your carpal tunnel (at your wrist) and inserts into the base of your thumb, so when it goes into spasm (from holding it contracted for extended periods of time, such as when you drive a car or you play tennis) it will shorten and put pressure on your carpal tunnel (it can cause your fingers to go numb, and also cause your wrist to hurt), or at the base of your thumb. Every time you grip something, the opponens pollicis is contracting and staying that way until you release your grip. As you try to open your hand, it can be pressing into the nerves to your hand/fingers and not only cause pain, but numbness.
I worked on the muscles that insert into his thumb, and also the muscles that move his fingers, and then I taught him what to do so he could self-treat at home.
He’s a happy camper – we tested his grip and it’s just fine, so he’s off to play tennis tonight!
Wishing you well,