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Trigger Thumb Exercises

By Denise Stern

Trigger thumb is a medical condition defined by a contracture of tendons in the hand and fingers that control movement of the fingers or thumb toward the palm of the hand. Trigger thumb is often caused by a thickening of the tendon that causes the finger to gradually become fixed in a position that curls inward. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may experience this, as do people experiencing long periods of time grasping objects like steering wheels or tools. Certain exercises may help relieve this tightening of the tendon and provide relief.


Keeping tendons, muscles and ligaments limber and active may help prevent or slow the progress of trigger thumb in many, when the condition is diagnosed early enough. Exercises like slowly opening and closing the hand, grasping a tennis ball or therapeutic clays often help relieve the pain and stiffness associated with the condition, and also help strengthen tendons and ligaments.

Non-Gripping Approaches

Since many cases of trigger thumb are caused by constant gripping motions, doctors advise patients to change their habits. Give the hand a rest if at all possible. Learn to grip the steering wheel a different way, or try using the non-dominant hand to help hold tools such as drills, saws or other objects. Flex the fingers often to keep the fingers from constantly curling inward toward the palm. Lie the hand flat on a surface and press down gently to stretch and loosen tight muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Exercise with Parafin Treatments

Exercises that work the hand muscles, such as finger touching exercises, combined with hot water or paraffin or hot wax treatments may also provide relief. For example, hold the hand up, fingers wide, as if you're making the "5" symbol with your hand. Now, try to touch your thumb to your index finger, your middle finger, ring finger and index finger in turn, relaxing the hand in between each exercise. Following that, dip your hand into a mixture of hot wax and mineral oil. The wax or paraffin should be melted and cooled slightly. Always read instructions according to its use, or visit a local massage spa in your area for such treatments. Dip the hand in quickly, enabling several coats to generally cover the hand rather than leaving your hand in the hot wax for an extended period of time. Cover the waxed hand with a cloth to hold in heat to provide deep muscle relief.

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